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AES Blog

Welcome to the AES Blog

Australasia has some excellent evaluators. More than that, we have an evaluation community full of ideas and a willingness to share. The AES has long provided a place for us to come together, at regional events and the annual conference, to develop our community together. Now we’re taking it online! The new AES blog will be a space for AES members – both new and experienced – to share their perspectives, reflecting on their theory...

If you have an idea, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please also view our blog guidelines.


Opening space for a community of practice

by Jade Maloney

Ever found yourself more engaged in the coffee break than the conference agenda? Ahead of the International Evaluation Conference #aes19SYD unconference day, Ruth McCausland, Kath Vaughan-Davies and I trialled an approach for the Australian Evaluation Society NSW meet-up that combined the best of both worlds – purposeful encounters with a coffee break vibe.

We adapted Open Space Technology, established by Harrison Owen in the 1980s, with the aim of finding “a way towards meetings that have the energy of a good coffee break combined with the substance of a carefully prepared agenda.” The approach has since been used around the world as a way of enabling people to self-organise around purpose.

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Presenting for audiences - some handy tips for aes19 conference presenters

by Gerard Atkinson

There is less than two weeks to go until the International Evaluation Conference #aes19SYD, taking place on 15 – 19 September here in Sydney. For those presenting at the conference, it’s time to polish off your presentation skills and get your materials ready. In the theme of “unboxing evaluation”, we’ve unboxed the art of developing effective and engaging presentations and put together an easy guide you can use not just in conferences but in any presentation.

The blog posts offers a few tips.

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A lunchtime chat with Anne Markiewicz

by Anthea Rutter

Anne and I have been colleagues and friends for many years. I have long been an admirer of her ability as a practical evaluator and I refer to Anne and Ian’s book frequently for my own practice. I caught up with Anne at the AES International Conference in Launceston, Tasmania, where we found time to share some lunch and some great conversation.

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Developing the next generation AES Strategic Priorities

by John Stoney, AES President

I was a policy and program wonk before I became an evaluation tragic. One of the things that excited me about remaining on the AES Board and taking up the President role was that one of the first tasks would be developing our next set of Strategic Priorities for the period 2019–2022.

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John Owen reflections

by Anthea Rutter

Interviewing John was a pleasure for me. He was my teacher at the Centre for Program Evaluation back in the 90s. Indeed, John and his colleagues have taught a large number of the members of the AES over the years. John and I have also worked on projects together.

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Realist evaluation in practice: an interview with Brad Astbury

by Eunice Sotelo & Victoria Pilbeam

Many evaluators are familiar with realist evaluation, and have come across the realist question “what works for whom, in what circumstances and how?” The book Doing Realist Research (2018) offers a deep dive into key concepts, with insights and examples from specialists in the field.

We caught up with Brad Astbury from ARTD Consultants about his book chapter. Before diving in, we quickly toured his industrial chic coworking office on Melbourne’s Collins Street – brick walls, lounges and endless fresh coffee. As we sipped on our fruit water, he began his story with a language lesson.

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Patricia Rogers, in conversation

by Anthea Rutter

While Patricia Rogers is one of the most recently named Fellows, many of you will be familiar with her work from AES conference keynotes, Better Evaluation and her report on Pathways to advance professionalisation within the context of the AES (with Greet Peersman). She is Professor of Public Sector Evaluation, RMIT University, and an award-winning evaluator, well known around the world.

While she is one busy lady, I managed to catch her at the last conference in Launceston, which was apt because conferences were a key thread in her reflections. 

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Anona Armstrong: The founder of the AES

by Anthea Rutter

Although a number of AES members have founded consultancies to channel their evaluation work, it is another thing to think about – and actually achieve – the founding of a professional society. This is exactly what Emeritus Professor Anona Armstrong did. Through her company Evaluation Training & Services, the fledging society was born in the early 80s. Not only did Anona found the AES, she had the honour and distinction of having a piece of music written for her and performed at the AES International Conference in 1992.

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Learn from the AES Fellows

by Anthea Rutter and the AES Blog Working Group

In evaluation, a good mentor can help you navigate the perplexing terrain of diverse schools of thought on what evaluation is about and how it should be done. Their guidance can help you avoid the pitfalls which can occur when you are translating a plan into practice. And their insight into where the profession of evaluation has been can help you shape where evaluation is going.

The 18 AES Fellows have over 550 years of experience between them. There is certainly a lot we could learn from them.

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Evaluation literacy in NGOs

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.

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