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Thursday, September 20 • 9:30am - 10:00am
Ethics in evaluation: navigating ethical requirements and processes to improve the quality of evaluation

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Ellie McDonald (Department of Health and Human Services), Lisa Thomson (DHHS), Meredith Jones (DHHS), Eleanor Williams (DHHS), Jan Browne (DHHS)

Navigating how and when to apply for ethics approval is often a challenge for evaluators. Determining when an evaluation is aligned with quality assurance and when the proposed evaluation plan should be assessed through a formal ethics process is not always clear cut. Now, with the emergence of new ways to access data and evolving practices such as 'human-centred design', it is essential that we have the knowledge and processes in place to tackle ethical considerations effectively.The Centre for Evaluation and Research (the Centre) in the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services recently consulted with departmental staff and human research ethics secretariats from 14 government departments and NGOs across Australia to better understand today's challenges facing ethics approval. The purpose of this review was to investigate the ethical barriers program and policy areas are experiencing when conducting an evaluation, research or co-design project.In a world where emergent technologies, design methodologies and data accessibility are constantly changing, how can we support evaluators and researchers to navigate ethical boundaries in a timely and reasonable way? The findings provided insight into a range of strategies that could be used to encourage more accessible ethical processes. The Centre found that:
  • staff are seeking more tailored guidance and support regarding ethics and ethics process 
  • ethical approval processes would be more effective if secretariats reviewed and provided advice prior to submission
  • an alternative low-risk process would encourage more staff to comply with ethics requirements rather than seeking ways to go around it
  • more diverse membership of Human Research Ethics Committees both in terms of cultural background and subject matter expertise would improve the ability of committees to process applications appropriately 

The Centre will discuss the findings of this review. More broadly, this presentation will discuss the ways that organisations and people can support ethical research and evaluation, from largescale data linkage exercises through to the elements of smaller scale qualitative participatory or human-centred methodologies.  

avatar for Clara Walker

Clara Walker

Evaluation Coordinator, Cancer Council Victoria
I am an evaluator with experience working in government, health service delivery and preventative health. In my current role, I am working to integrate monitoring and evaluation into a statewide, complex health promotion program. I am interested in the design and conduct of evaluation... Read More →

avatar for Ellie McDonald

Ellie McDonald

Evaluation and Research Policy Officer, DHHS
Ellie is an emerging evaluator, with a background in public policy and international relations. Currently working in the Centre for Evaluation and Research at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Ellie undertakes internal program evaluations and provides advice and... Read More →
avatar for Eleanor Williams

Eleanor Williams

Assistant Director, Centre for Evaluation and Research, Department of Health and Human Services Victoria
In my current role as Assistant Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Research at the Department of Health and Human Services, I am working to build an evaluation culture across a large government department of over 12,000 employees. My team and I aim to improve the use of data... Read More →

Thursday September 20, 2018 9:30am - 10:00am AEST
Chancellor 6