shift practice 600

Date and time: Thursday 23rd July AND Monday 27th July 2020, 2.00pm to 3.30pm AEST (registration from 1.45pm) Registrants are to attend both sessions.

Venue: Via Zoom. Details will be emailed to registrants just prior to the workshop start time

Facilitator: Samantha Abbato, Liz Smith and Sandar Duckworth

Register online by: 20 July 2020. Spaces limited to 24 participants from Australia and NZ and international AES members

Fees (GST inclusive): Members $165, Non-members $315, Student member $95, Student non-member $140*
 * Students must send proof of their full-time student status to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Workshop Overview


COVID-19 has profoundly impacted all aspects of our lives, including our physical, mental and social health, our employment and economies and the way we all interact. The future is uncertain, but we know that many of the changes we are experiencing are here to stay. Agencies, systems and services now need to engage with and navigate an increasingly complex environment.

Evaluation has an ever-important role in informing policy and decision-making and in improving system innovation and improvement. But for evaluation to be relevant in our post COVID world, evaluators need to examine and respond to the changes and adapt their practice to a dynamic and increasingly complex and complicated environment. We have an opportunity to strengthen our ability to evaluate interventions and initiatives that are increasingly place-based open-systems rather than program or project based closed-systems. As evaluators, we can meet the increasing challenges through broadening our skills and applying tools beyond evaluation plans, logic models, and methods to those that are more suited to uncertainty and unpredictability.


This interactive workshop, led by a cross-Tasman team, will give insight into how the landscape of evaluation has changed. We will identify the strengths we bring as evaluators and what additional tools and skills we need to effectively contribute to our post-COVID world. The workshop draws on our collective experience of navigating, adapting and evaluating through the COVID lockdowns in Aotearoa and Australia. We will share the good, the bad and the ugly of what we have done and what we have learned through this early period of transition. We will also share trends emerging for evaluation practice.

The workshop is for experienced and emerging evaluators, and evaluation teams looking to advance evaluation in our changing world. We invite:

  • Evaluation professionals looking to make evaluation relevant in our world right now – why it’s essential, and how to provide value in these challenging and changing times.
  • Organisations who are building evaluation capacity and doing evaluation in-house

Workshop Content

The interactive workshop is structured around collectively answering four questions:

  • What has changed as a result of COVID, and how do these changes impact evaluation and evaluators now and into the foreseeable future?
  • What strengths do evaluators bring, and what skills do we still need to strengthen, to effectively evaluate in our post-COVID world?
  • How do we pivot from a linear model of evaluation centred on logic, plans and methods to a system-ready one, incorporating values, complexity, and partnership?
  • What are some practical steps we can take to re-position to incorporate principles, collaboration, system-thinking and effective communication into our evaluation practice?

This online workshop will include a mix of presentations and case studies, small group activities and discussions and practical tools, checklists and tips.

Workshop Objectives

At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the changes and identify the attributes of the post-COVID environment and how it is likely to affect evaluation and evaluators
  • Understand the strengths and challenges of current practices of evaluation in this changing environment
  • Apply new strategies and tools to practice to address the challenges of an increasingly dynamic and complex work environment
  • Take practical steps to increase the relevance and appropriateness of evaluation.

PL competencies

This workshop aligns with competencies in the AES Evaluator’s Professional Learning Competency Framework. The identified domains are:

  • Domain 1 – Evaluative attitude and professional practice
  • Domain 2 – Evaluation theory
  • Domain 3 – Culture, stakeholders and context
  • Domain 4 – Research methods and systematic inquiry
  • Domain 5 – Project management
  • Domain 6 – Interpersonal skills
  • Domain 7 – Evaluation Activities

Who should attend?

Many participants will be seasoned evaluators who have designed, commissioned and conducted evaluations effectively preCOVID-19. They are now facing the challenge of how to leverage their knowledge and skills, and are seeking advice on developing their practice in a changing environment. This workshop will also be helpful for individuals, teams and organisations who are retraining and expanding their skills sets and early career evaluators.

Workshop start times
  • Victoria, NSW, ACT, QLD, TAS: 2.00pm
  • SA, NT: 1.30pm
  • Perth: 12.00pm noon
  • New Zealand: 4.00pm

About the facilitators

Samantha Abbato

Sam is an independent evaluation consultant based in Brisbane and director of Visual Insights People, an international consultant collaborative founded in 2013. Sam has more than 25 years of experience and strong methodological expertise across a range of qualitative and quantitative disciplines. Her academic grounding in quantitative methods is built upon a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physiology and a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics. She has extensive qualitative training in medical anthropology (PhD, UC Berkeley).

As the director of Visual Insights People since 2013, she has introduced a pictures and stories approach to participatory evaluation for health and community services. Sam has a passion for evaluation capacity building and evaluation use for agencies by increasing accessibility through effective communication of strategic evaluation tools using visual innovation and reducing jargon.  Through listening to and working with long-term and new clients amidst the upheaval resulting from COVID-19, she is reflecting on the varied responses to evaluation (its currency and how it is done) and what this might mean for our current and future roles as evaluators.

Liz Smith, Partner Litmus

Liz is a co-founder of Litmus, a specialist private sector evaluation company based in Wellington, New Zealand, and active across Australasia. Liz was Vice President of the AES from 2013 – 2018.

Liz’s evaluation journey started more than 25 years ago as a nurse in the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, when assessing the effects of new nursing practice on patients’ health experiences. Since then, Liz has led many evaluations in the health, social and justice sectors focused on improving wellbeing outcomes and decreasing inequities.

Liz’s evaluation practice is driven by her goal of creating equitable health care systems that offer positive patient experiences and outcomes through improved system design. In her evaluation practice, Liz engages in participatory processes to ensure quiet and silent voices are included in meaningful ways.

During COVID, Liz has worked collectively to design new and ethical ways to ensure the voice of whānau Māori and people with dementia are heard in policy and service redesign. Drawing on the insights from the evaluation of Place-Based Initiatives in South Auckland and Tairāwhiti, Liz is contributing to policy thinking on the role of regional collectives in the COVID response.

Sandar Duckworth, Partner Litmus

For over 20 years, Sandar has practised and led social research and evaluation teams in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is a founding partner of Litmus a specialist private sector evaluation company.

Her goal is to make sure policy and decision-makers achieve a deep and empathetic understanding of the context and challenges for people who connect with their policies and programmes.

Sandar has courageously, and creatively continued to conduct evaluations during our lockdown. Determined to put a human face to the insights and evidence she gives, she made the transition online with respect, humility, compassion, and faith.


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