In her two decades immersed in the field of evaluation, Anne Redman has seen a dramatic shift in the way evaluation is viewed, from the evaluation of programs being almost an afterthought, to it more often becoming a foundation for developing policies and programs that have real impact and value.
Ms Redman, who recently joined the Sax Institute as Co-Director of our Evaluate program, says that 20 years ago, there was very little focus on or investment in evaluation.
“Definitely over that time, it has, grown rapidly and significantly,” she says.
Ms Redman came to the Institute from a role as Director of CIRCA (Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre Australia) where she worked for two decades managing research and evaluation programs for the organisation, which focuses on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and multicultural communities.
“We did a lot of developmental research and work with agencies in understanding problems, and helping them to design evaluation programs, “she says.
“We were concentrating on bringing rigor to research and evaluation for a diverse audience.”
The Centre has provided research recommendations that have influenced the development of a large number of programs and campaigns in the health and social policy sector, such as the development of the national Care for Kids’ Ears program, the NSW Aboriginal Quitline, the NSW knockout weight loss challenge and the Aboriginal Child and Family Centres.
From afterthought to first step
Ms Redman says almost all the projects she worked on in her early years in evaluation involved agencies seeking evaluations of programs that were already up and running, often to assess effectiveness or feasibility for scaling up.
But rather than coming right at the end of program’s funding cycle, she says evaluation is increasingly seen as a key component when establishing a new policy or program, so that evaluation and monitoring is embedded from the outset.
“There has been a major shift from evaluation being about giving you the evidence that you probably already knew at the start of the program in order to formalise it, to embedding evaluation in programs from the very start so that it is the foundation for effective policies or programs.”
Evaluation as foundation for better health
In her new role, Ms Redman says the focus is on facilitating independent, evidence-based evaluations that ask the right questions from the outset, and answer these questions with rigorous methods.
The Evaluate team, led by internationally recognised expert Professor Don Nutbeam, is working collaboratively with agencies to provide a range of services from advice and support around evaluation planning through to implementing, brokering and conducting evaluations.
“The Sax Institute has long had a focus on working closely with agencies and researchers to achieve better outcomes,” she says “We understand policy realities, and we can apply a rigorous approach to helping decision-makers ensure their policies and programs are designed in a way that ensures they will have real impact.”
Find out more
- Evaluate program launched to support better policies and programs
- The importance of public sector policy and program evaluation – Don Nutbeam’s opinion piece, published in The Mandarin
- Download the Evaluate flyer