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Thursday, September 20 • 11:00am - 11:30am
When an evaluator benefits: the challenges of managing values and power in evaluating with a lived experience

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Joanna Farmer (beyondblue)

Traditionally, we tend to think of evaluators as external 'agents of evaluation' working with a number of program stakeholder groups, including program clients, to provide findings and recommendations to program staff. Increasingly, this reality is changing as evaluation capacity increases within service delivery organisations - evaluators often come from 'within'.
Interest in participatory evaluation has grown, with a range of evaluation approaches that could be considered under the umbrella of participation, such as empowerment and democratic evaluation. However, these approaches continue to present a false binary between evaluator and program beneficiary. This fails to recognise that sometimes evaluators come from within the community that the program is designed to assist. These approaches posit that the evaluator neutrally applies the standards and criteria established by others. For example, in democratic evaluation "the evaluator acts as a broker in exchanges of information between groups who want knowledge of each other." (MacDonald, 1996)

In this paper, the presenter will draw on her experience as both an evaluator (within program delivery and as an external evaluator) and a mental health lived experience advocate. She proposes that when evaluating programs of which the evaluator is a potential beneficiary there are challenges not currently accounted for in participatory evaluation approaches, and traditional conflict of interest processes. 

However, these challenges can be managed. Here, she presents a range of considerations for the 'evaluator as beneficiary' and practical solutions to manage potential conflict of values and power. 

The power of evaluation as a democratic enabler of lived experience capacity cannot be underestimated, and addressing the challenges head on will produce more meaningful outcomes for both evaluators and communities.

avatar for Kelly Tapley

Kelly Tapley

Evaluation & Impact Manager, SuperFriend - Industry Funds’ Mental Health Initiative
Since joining SuperFriend in 2010, Kelly has gained a wealth of subject matter expertise in workplace mental health promotion. With qualifications in psychology and psychophysiology over 15 years experience in health research project management across corporate, public and not for... Read More →

avatar for Joanna Farmer

Joanna Farmer

Manager, Deloitte
I am an early career evaluator with a passion for mental health. I have a particular interest in how to meaningfully support people with lived experience of mental health to participate in evaluation. I am currently studying the Masters of Evaluation at Melbourne Uni.

Thursday September 20, 2018 11:00am - 11:30am AEST
Chancellor 6