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Conference paper

Aboriginal engagement, Aboriginal evaluation: owning an evaluation through comprehensive co-design

First Peoples health Rural health Consumer behaviour Co-design South Australia


The various state-run health services in South Australia are charged with implementing ‘an effective consumer engagement system’. In 2015, one of the state's several local health networks published a strategy for engagement with its Aboriginal consumers and community members. As part of the South Australian Health Performance Council’s remit to review the effectiveness of the state's community engagement methods, the Council decided to evaluate how well that engagement strategy had been implemented.

As the strategy being evaluated was about Aboriginal health consumers and community members, it was necessary that they themselves would best have the experience and legitimacy necessary to guide our review. The Council therefore set up a governing advisory group made up of people with a strong mix of Aboriginal health perspectives, including – crucially – members of the very same grass roots Aboriginal community register that was itself the flagship creation of the strategy being evaluated.

This paper introduces the project governance and the co-creation of an Aboriginal advisory group and explains the lengthy but critical collaborative process the advisory group then used to develop an agreed evaluation logic model to inform the design of the evaluation. The paper then explains how the advisory group provided governance for the substantive components of the evaluation, including advice on protecting Aboriginal cultural property by procuring external expert assistance from an Aboriginal-led social research firm to undertake primary data collection. Finally, the paper presents the iterative validation process used to prove and refine the draft findings and results to ensure that they resonated with the community.

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