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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 Please also view our blog guidelines.

In conversation with AES Fellow Nan Wehipeihana

by Anthea Rutter

Members who have made a long-term and wide-ranging contribution to the AES and the field of evaluation are recognised through a special category of membership called 'Fellow of the AES'.

Nan was made a Fellow in 2021. She has been in the evaluation profession since the late 1980s. For more than 20 years Nan has run an independent evaluation company in Wellington New Zealand. Nan builds evaluation teams on a project-by-project basis. She brings together evaluators with a broad mix of skills and experience tailored to meet the evaluation, whether that is in a government, community, or tribal context. Nan comes to evaluation with business, retail management, market research and social policy experience. She decided to set up an evaluation company because of the highly variable quality of evaluations she was managing and because she wanted to make a difference for Māori. Nan has been a member of the AES since the late 80s. As well as being co-opted onto the AES Board she was part of the Wellington Chapter and has been involved in the NZ conferences and running workshops for the AES. 

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Pictures, storytelling & play – tools for evaluation capacity building and change management

By Samantha Abbato and Kate Sunners

Pictures, storytelling and fun are essential in the evaluator's change management toolbox and for evaluation capacity building. In this blog, Samantha Abbato (Visual Insights People) and Kate Sunners (ARTD) unpack why this is and provide some ideas for your engagement toolbox through a case study. 

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The ten success factors for building evaluation capabilities in the public sector

by Andrew Benoy and Kale Dyer

With government finances tight, it is more important than ever for agencies to demonstrate that every dollar being spent is generating value.

So it makes sense that monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) is in the spotlight, and that many agencies are looking to build their internal MEL capabilities.

But building that MEL capability is no easy task. Drawing on our experience working with government agencies across Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada, we are pleased to share some key things you should consider when investing in and growing MEL capabilities in the public sector. 
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How to run your MEL program digitally using free tools

By David Watters, Founder at Simple and Engaging
I was recently talking with a non-profit client of ours at the end of one of our regular meetings. We'd strayed from our automated maturity assessment project to talk about some of the other projects they were working on. They walked me through one of their social impact programs and the processes involved in gathering, analysing, and improving data. One thing immediately stood out to me: the processes were very manual, time consuming, and generally diverted their attention away from the more important work of understanding what the data was telling them and how they could improve.

It made me wonder if there wasn't a more automated and digital way to do this work. While doing some basic research, I discovered a number of platforms that usually came with a very high price tag, far out of my client's reach. Our organisation's goal is to use our natural curiosity and focus on effectively using technology to simplify and solve complex problems in order to assist organisations in reaching their full potential. So, I collaborated with leading social innovation guru, Tracy Collier to learn about the typical steps in a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Program and to identify some free tools that can be used at each stage. 

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In conversation with AES Fellow Amohia Boulton

by Anthea Rutter Members who have made a long-term and wide-ranging contribution to the AES and the field of evaluation are recognised through a special category of membership called 'Fellow of the AES'. Amohia Boulton was made a Fellow in 2022, having been in and contributing to the evaluation profession since th...

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In conversation with AES Fellow Dorothy Lucks

by Anthea Rutter

Members who have made a long-term and wide-ranging contribution to the AES and the field of evaluation are recognised through a special category of membership called 'Fellow of the AES'.
Dorothy Lucks was made a Fellow in 2021, having been in and contributing to the evaluation profession since the 1990s. Dorothy is the Managing Director of a WA based company, SDF Global, and specialises in the field of sustainable development. A long-time member of the local WA branch of the AES, Dorothy was also a member of the International Relations Committee for the AES Board.
In this blog, Dorothy speaks with Anthea Rutter (Research Fellow, Centre for Program Evaluation) about her time in evaluation, her long association with the AES, and what drives her in her work.

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Working with lived experience researchers: a practical framework

by Jade Maloney, Sharon-Marra Brown, Alexandra Lorigan and Rosie Dale

At AES22, ARTD Consultants' Jade Maloney, Sharon Marra-Brown, Alexandra Lorigan and Holly Kovak presented on a panel with peer researchers, Kirsty Rosie and Rosie Dale, on the practicalities of co-evaluating with lived and living experience (LLE) researchers.

Co-evaluation like co-design is informed by the principle of 'nothing about us, without us.' While co-design recognises the rights of people with lived experience to shape the policies and programs that affect their lives and the way this strengthens policy, co-evaluation recognises the expertise that people with lived experience bring to designing measures of success, collecting data and making sense of findings and the way this can strengthen evaluation. 

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Greater than the sum of the parts: Evaluating the collective impact of complex programs

by Brianna Page and Mateja Hawley

Public policy seeks to address a wide array of issues, so it cannot rely only on one policy lever. Instead, tackling knotty problems or capitalising on big opportunities requires all the tools in a policymaker's toolkit. But this means evaluators must also consider our own toolkits, in order to be able to provide robust evidence on multi-faceted initiatives aimed at diverse stakeholders and changes in systems and practices. This was the challenge we at Nous faced when evaluating the Queensland Government's Advance Queensland (AQ) Initiative, a $755 million flagship initiative designed to foster innovation, build Queensland's knowledge economy, and create jobs now and for the future. 

AQ has all the hallmarks of complexity. It comprises about 140 programs and activities delivered by 9 government departments, coordinated by the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport (DTIS). It includes programs aimed at a diverse range of stakeholders – innovators, businesses, researchers, investors and industry – and includes three priority groups – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, women, and regional and remote innovators. 
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Evaluation Capacity Building in Primary Prevention: Lifting our gaze to the conditions for success in primary prevention

by Kate Baker

When it comes to improving the health and wellbeing of our communities, there's quite a lot of peddling going on. Needless to say we've been peddling even harder through these recent times of COVID-19. We are working hard to manage the increasing load on our mental health services system. We are working hard to respond to the impacts of racism, gender inequity, poor diet and our increasingly sedentary lives. We are working hard to manage 'the loneliness epidemic' and its associated health effects, and not to mention a struggling aged care system. There's a lot going on and I can't help but feel like there's quite a bit of bumping around in the dark as we work hard to build happy, healthy communities. I'm not really sure we are getting to the bottom of things.  
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Behind the data: A First Nations’ organisation’s experience of a social and economic impact assessment

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development (2021)

by Lea Gage and Sharon Babyack, Community First Development

In the second half of 2021, Community First Development took a journey with ACIL Allen ( to undertake a significant assessment on the effectiveness of the work we do in partnership with First Nations' communities on their community projects. 

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