Welcome to the AES Blog
by Danielle Campbell, Marlkirdi Rose Napaljarri and Linda Kelly
Indigenous people in Australia and internationally are increasingly calling for monitoring and evaluation that supports self-determination, decolonisation and better outcomes for their communities.
In this blog, we share some of what we have learned together – as Indigenous and non-Indigenous community development advocates and evaluators – from our work in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia. We hope that by sharing some of our key lessons, from 10 years of trials, successes and failures, we can contribute to the discussion about whether and how genuinely co-created Indigenous evaluation can be done in Australia.
by Sarah Oxford
The Australian Evaluation Society recently held FestEVAL21, a week of online activities to celebrate evaluation. This year’s event included more than 1,100 registrants with attendance of about 3,000 people across 23 sessions. The engaging session topics ranged from themes addressing practical application such as capability and capacity building in evaluation to encouraging evaluator reflection and behaviour change. FestEVAL gave us ample opportunities to begin this work by platforming experts with diverse life experiences in evaluation.
The topics that caught my interest were the ones that made me look inwards and ask, what can I do to lead evaluations with inclusive and anti-racist practices? As evaluators a lot of our work involves exploring human behaviour change. But what happens when our behaviour and the systems that we work in and through need to change? How can we improve ourselves, our evaluation practices and the systems at large?
by Keren Winterford
Applying ethical principles in evaluation is about making fair and just choices relevant to the context, culture of participants and evaluation purpose. In fact, whenever we speak to a person – a participant or stakeholder - as part of an evaluation, we need to think about ethics.
Why? Because this type of thinking ensures that our practice, at a bare minimum, is risk management, and adheres to the fundamental principle of ‘do no harm.’ It also shapes your relationships with participants and stakeholders as one of trust, mutual responsibility and ethical equality.
It is only through such practice that evaluation provides an important contribution to effective policy and change.
by Doyen Radcliffe, Donna-Maree Stephens and Sharon Babyack - Community First Development
Community First Development led an AES seminar on creating a culturally safe evaluation and research space in September 2021.Community First Development is a First Nations’ led organisation that works with First Nations’ communities by invitation only, every project we do is monitored throughout, using indicators designed and evaluated by communities themselves. Our vision is to see First Nations’ peoples and communities thriving.
At the seminar, we shared lessons learnt from a participatory action research project focused on gaining a better understanding of 11 communities with whom we had been working for three years on community development projects. We are pleased to be back to answer the questions from our AES seminar. Most importantly, we would like to thank attendees for the words of encouragement and support.
by Lea Gage and Sharon Babyack, Community First Development
In the second half of 2021, Community First Development took a journey with ACIL Allen (https://acilallen.com.au/) to undertake a significant assessment on the effectiveness of the work we do in partnership with First Nations' communities on their community projects.
by Alicia McCoy, Alison Rogers, Leanne Kelly
Evaluation in NGOs in Australia has evolved at a fast pace. Ten years ago, the evaluation landscape in the non-profit sector in Australia looked very different than it does today. There was less evaluation occurring, very few organisations had internal evaluation functions, and funders were often satisfied with output focused reports.
by Florent Gomez
Have you ever tried to grow evaluation capacity across your organisation? And this, with very limited resources?
At the recent AES International Evaluation Conference in Sydney, I shared some learnings from our successful Evaluation Community of Practice in the NSW Department of Customer Service (previously NSW Department of Finance) and other soft approaches to evaluation capacity building we are using in our department.
by Renée Madsen
Regionally-based evaluators – those living and working outside major cities – are a vital part of the evaluation ecosystem. They bring the benefits of evaluation to areas where essential services can be thinly spread and under pressure to deliver the best possible results with limited resources. Regionally-based evaluators ensure that evaluation is accessible to those who would not otherwise be able to engage with evaluation expertise, and we represent the profession in areas it would not otherwise reach.