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Framework for evaluation of policies, programs and services

Development of framework for evaluation of policies, programs and services that aim to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing

Project aim and objectives  

This project aimed to develop a framework to guide future evaluation activities aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, programs and services oriented towards health equity. Its objectives were to:   

Project team 

Project leader: Professor Margaret Kelaher, Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne  
Project partner: Deakin University  
Administering organisation: The University of Melbourne   
Project timeline: 01/07/2018—31/12/2018  


Project findings  

The key principles underpinning many government programs to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing included: shared responsibility, cultural competence, engagement, equity, partnership, capacity building, accountability, evidence-based and a holistic concept of health.   
The key elements in a systems-based framework to guide evaluations of policy, programs or services were identified as:  

Key elements that support and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community level engagement included:   

Key indicators or evaluation questions, for which data could be collected, included:   

The study identified many aspects of good practice evaluation involving evaluators, commissioners and program implementers. Some of these included:  

Development stage:

Implementation stage  

Evaluation stage  

Knowledge translation  

Project outcomes  


  • The project identified areas where evaluations could be improved, such as:  

  1. increasing transparency and accountability  

  2. incorporating principles for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into programs  

  3. using ethical frameworks that recognise the responsibilities of all parties in evaluation and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and ownership at all phases of the program planning and evaluation cycle.   

  • The project found, overall, that there was recognition of limitations of current practice from a range of perspectives.   
  • There was also a recognition that systemic change is required to fully implement the changes required to improve the benefit of evaluation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  


  • The results of the study were presented at the Lowitja Institute forum (“Community priorities into policy”) in Canberra, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) conference in Brisbane and the Global Evidence and Implementation Science conference in Melbourne.  
  • A users guide for the framework and course materials have been developed.  


  • The tools developed will assist commissioners of evaluation to improve their practice.  


  • The project governance and research team includes leading Aboriginal researchers, policy makers and community members. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been involved in all phases of the project  
  • Opportunities for capacity building and shared learning are incorporated throughout the project design. At this stage capacity building activities have been initiated through the project reference group and development of the research team. This was expanded in ongoing workshop phases and the development of resources to support ongoing evaluation practice.  
Related resources:

Project leader

Margaret Kelaher

Administering institution:

The University of Melbourne

Completion date:

December 2017