Centring Indigenous people in evaluation is key to better outcomes

The Productivity Commission today outlined a plan to improve the evaluation of policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It is a stark reality that despite decades of new policies and programs aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we know very little about their impact,” Productivity Commission Chair Michael Brennan said.

“Evaluation is too often an afterthought. We need to lift the bar on evaluation quality, embed it at the outset of policy design and make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are closely involved throughout.”

The draft Indigenous Evaluation Strategy puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at its centre. It recognises that to achieve better outcomes, what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people value, their expertise, and lived experiences need to be reflected in what is evaluated, how evaluation is undertaken and the outcomes policies and programs seek to achieve.

“The Strategy is about Australian Government agencies engaging effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to better design and evaluate policies and programs. The Strategy must improve evaluations to improve policies and the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Commissioner Romlie Mokak said.

The draft Strategy includes detailed guidance material, outlining the strengths of different evaluation approaches and how to ensure evaluation is part of every stage of policy making and program delivery.

The Commission also proposes new governance arrangements to monitor Australian Government agencies’ performance against the Strategy, provide evaluation leadership, and identify potential cross-agency and topic evaluations. The Strategy also sets out a government‑wide approach to setting evaluation priorities.

The Commission consulted widely when developing the draft Strategy, including with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations. The Commission is again seeking feedback on the proposed approach.

The draft Strategy, guidance material and background paper are available at www.pc.gov.au

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