A Vision for Indigenous Evaluation

was the title of my keynote address at the 2013 Australasian Evaluation Society Conference, in Brisbane, Australia. The theme of the conference was “Evaluation shaping a better future: Priorities, pragmatics, priorities and power”.

I put forward a framework for reflecting on evaluation practice, as a means of increasing participation and control by Indigenous peoples and communities in evaluation.

Evaluation done TO communities involves collecting data from them without involving them in any way in the decisions about the evaluation or in using it, and to meet the objectives of other stakeholders.

Evaluation done FOR communities is done with good intentions, to improve the situation for them, but with the evaluator making decisions about the evaluation without reference to their values about what is important or what constitutes credible evidence – Western world views prevail.

Evaluation done WITH communities involves some community members in the process of evaluation, but non-Indigenous people are in control of the process.

Evaluation done BY communities has Indigenous people in control of the process, but they are also accommodating Western values and notions of credible evidence.

Evaluation AS community is based on community views on what is valued and what constitutes credible evidence. It does not exclude Western values or notions of credible evidence but only as far as is seen to be useful. There is no automatic or presumed right of participation by non Indigenous people or approaches, only by invitation.

Since the conference, i’ve reflected more on the framework and titled it “Locating Evaluation Practice: Evaluation as an expression of power, consequences and control.

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