October 19, 2022

Contributions to Evaluation Acknowledged

Amohia and Sharon with friends Maddie Bower and Lisa Warner at the 2015 AES Conference, Melbourne, Australia
Contributions to Evaluation Acknowledged
Amohia and Sharon with friends Maddie Bower and Lisa Warner at the 2015 AES Conference, Melbourne, Australia

During the recent Australian Evaluation Society Conference (see separate item below), Dr Amohia Boulton was made a Fellow of the Society, together with long-time friend and colleague Sharon Clarke.

The category of membership known as ‘Fellow of the Society' was adopted by the AES in 2003, to recognise long term members of the AES who have made significant and sustained contribution both to the theory and practice of evaluation and to the Society.  It is intended that Fellows continue to contribute to the aims of the AES and many do so in a range of ways including consultancies, workshops, mentoring, advice, and committee membership.

Prospective fellows are nominated by AES members – in this case former Society President Lyn Alderman and Vice President Liz Smith. The nomination is assessed by a committee of Fellows and a Representative of the Board.  This year's committee members were and Zita Unger and Rick Cummings representing the Fellows, and Charlie Tulloch representing the AES Board.  

There are currently 25 AES Fellows including Nan Wehipeihana who was the first Indigenous Fellow of AES. Nan, who presented the award observed that both Amohia and Sharon had worked together as Board members, leading the move within the AES to provide the Society with “the proper perspective and tools to be more inclusive of the cultural safety of First Nations people and communities.” Nan noted that as such, they were deliberately nominated at the same time to reflect the way they worked as a very influential team to bring about these changes.   

Nan's kōrero for the induction both Sharon and Amohia as Fellows of the AES follows below:

In 2003 the AES identified Indigenous Evaluation as a strategic objective of the society.

Nearly two decades on, as we approach 2023

  • we have more First Nations evaluators here at the conference and as members of the society then we've ever had before
  • we see and hear more stories about First Nations peoples by First Nations peoples
  • and we are all benefitting from a greater appreciation of First Nations knowledges and cultures

Tonight we honour two Indigenous women who have been pivotal in weaving First Nations thinking, knowing, and being into the fabric of our society, and in doing so have enriched the tapestry of our evaluation community.

I am sure you share in my delight in welcoming Sharon Clarke and Amohia Boulton as Fellows of the Australian Evaluation Society.

Sharon Clarke is Wergaia, Wemba Wemba, and Djadwajali on her mother's side, which is in the Wimmera region of north-western Victoria and on her father's side Gundjitimara, which is in the western district of Victoria.  She is a Senior Project Officer in Wellbeing SA, an independent government agency focussed on prevention, health promotion and primary health care.

During her time on the AES Board from 2014 to 2021, Sharon has had a profound and transformational influence on improving the recognition of the need for and value of an Indigenous perspective on the practice of evaluation and the philosophy and protocols of the AES.  

Sharon co-chaired the Project Advisory Group on a multi-year research project to with an Australian and Aotearoa research and evaluator team to strengthen culturally safe evaluation practice in Indigenous settings which has led to the adoption by the AES of Cultural Protocols, cultural safety training and the First Nations Cultural Safety Framework.  As a result, the AES is in a much better position to influence and improve the practice of evaluation in Indigenous settings.  

Sharon also co-chaired the Conference Support Grants for Emerging Indigenous Evaluators.  As a result, over 50 emerging Indigenous evaluators have attended the conference with many going on to very productive careers in evaluation, setting excellent role models for others to follow them.  

As mentioned earlier, much of this work was done in conjunction with Amohia Boulton, as these two members built bridges across the Tasman and have created an excellent working relationship with the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA) and Ma te Rae.  

With Sharon's guidance, the AES has increased Indigenous leadership in the Society and through this its position as a leader in evaluation in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Please welcome Sharon Clarke as an AES Fellow.

Dr Amohia Boulton is a leader in the field of Maori health services. She is currently Director of the Whakauae Research Centre: the only iwi-owned Māori health research centre in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Amohia is also Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, AUT; Adjunct Research Associate, Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Victoria University of Wellington; and Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Health Services Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. 

For over 20 years, Amohia has been a leader in Maori health service delivery through her research and evaluation, particularly through the development of kaupapa Māori research theory and practice to inform ethics and evaluation practice.  As a kaupapa Māori researcher she strives to produce research that brings about positive change for Māori communities. Amohia works to ensure the research reaches the desks of key decision-makers, so that evidence informs policy and service-level change. 

The AES has benefited greatly from Amohia's strong background in Maori-led research and evaluation and has worked closely with AES Indigenous members, in particular Sharon, to bring about similar change in Australia. Amohia has been very active working with AES committees and projects to develop the Cultural Protocols, cultural safety training and the First Nations Cultural Safety Framework. 

In a similar way to Sharon, Amohia co-chaired Conference Support Grants for Emerging Indigenous Evaluators from 2013-2017.  She has also been a major supporter of emerging Maori researchers and evaluators through a scholarship programme has supported a number of talented young Maori students in their post-graduate studies.
Amohia is unable to be with us this evening and has asked Gill to accept on her behalf. (A link to Amohia's acceptance speech can be found here)

Please welcome Amohia Boulton as an AES Fellow.


Highlights of the 2022 AES International Conference


Gill Potaka-Osborne and Lisa Warner

From left: Gill Potaka-Osborne and Lisa Warner


Aotearoa New Zealand colleagues Mel Maniapoto and Hayden Bradley of Te Oranganui Trust joined Whakauae researchers Gill Potaka Osborne and Mel Potaka-Osborne at the 2022 Australasian Evaluation Society (AES) International Conference. This year the conference was held in Adelaide, South Australia, on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people. Participants came from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, the wider Pacific region, and further afield.

The conference theme was “Weaving evaluation into the whole”. Under this general theme, there were four sub-themes as follows:

  • Evaluation for all
    Showcasing the value of evaluation; sharing stories and examples of how evaluation can involve and impact everyone. How evaluation weaves into programs and policies at community, state, and national levels. 
  • Weaving perspectives
    Whose values matter in evaluation; exploring inclusive approaches that embrace the values and perspectives of First Nations people and diverse communities. How these practices enhance the quality of evaluation by weaving in and reconciling the perspectives of the many players involved.
  • New ways of weaving
    Demonstrating the continuing innovation in evaluation practice; engaging with creativity, adaptation, and opportunity in the ever-changing world. How evaluation has adapted amidst acute and chronic challenges.
  • Materials, patterns, and practices
    Sharing our favourites; practical illustrations, and highlights of old and new tools, methods, and activities for evaluation. How current and emerging evaluators learn from each other to build capability.


The conference included many amazing speakers. Of particular note was Nan Wehipeihana, who opened the conference with her presentation entitled “Evaluation in pursuit of Indigenous Health Equity. Weaving courage, evidence, and evaluative insights in a funder-commissioned evaluation”. Another speaker worthy of mention was Associate Professor Amy Gullickson, the University of Melbourne Centre for Program Evaluation Director. Amy's presentation, entitled “Soul and Maturity: On Being Evaluators”, provided listeners with a commentary on how values are essential in evaluations as they touch the souls of the people and organisations evaluators work with. As evaluators, Amy noted we weave into ourselves and our practice to be able to handle souls with integrity. She proposed that attending to our maturity as individuals can help ensure evaluation honours and respect the souls with whom we work, and thus, can help evaluation positively influence our world. Her PowerPoint was very entertaining, using stick figures to present her argument.


In addition, Gill was able to catch up with Lisa Warner, who worked with Whakauae on a previous research project, “STEPS: The development of principles to strengthen health evaluation practice in Australia and New Zealand” alongside Associate Professor Margret Cargo. Lisa resides in Adelaide and continues to work with indigenous people and deliver Concept Mapping to communities.


On the last day of the conference, Gill, Mel, and Hayden co-presented a session entitled “The boys have as much say as what we do around what happens”: Co-design in Indigenous youth programmes and evaluation design”. The session explored how Whakauae undertook the evaluation of two rangatahi programmes in partnership with a Te Oranganui. It described the successes and challenges when evaluating programmes and noted the impact of Covid 19 on both the programmes and evaluation. The presenters concluded that the programmes effectively addressed rangatahi Māori inequity using approaches underpinned by mātauranga Māori. Additionally, they acknowledged the positive relationships between programme staff and evaluators, adding value to programme content and success. The presentation attracted much interest from other Indigenous providers and evaluators working with rangatahi.


Group Photo from left Mel Potaka-Osborne, Kiri Parata, Nan Wehipeihana, Hayden Bradley, Gill Potaka-Osborne, Mel Maniapoto.


Another highlight of the Conference for Whakauae was the Gala Awards Dinner held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. During the Awards Dinner, Whakauae research and evaluation contractor Kiri Parata addressed the conference in her role as an AES President. Kiri welcomed and introduced the recipients of this year's Conference Support Grants for Emerging Indigenous Evaluators, one of whom was our own Mel Potaka-Osborne. Mel said the highlights for her were the Indigenous-led presentations, the cultural walk around Adelaide CBD with elder Uncle Frank Wangutya Wanganeen and the whanaungatanga with other conference participants and presenters.


Emerging Indigenous Scholarship winners. Far-left Sharon Clarke and far-right Doyen Radcliff are members of the Indigenous Culture and Diversity Committee. Doyen is also a board member of AES. Kiri Parata, AES President, is third from the right, and Mel Potaka-Osborne is 7th from the right. 


A final conference highlight was the induction of Dr Amohia Boulton into the Fellows of the AES and her colleague Sharon Clarke (see separate news item above). Taken as a whole, the AES conference once again proved to be an excellent place to stimulate thinking, hear new ideas, catch up with old friends and present some of Whakauae's exciting evaluation work. The Whakauae team is already looking forward to the 2023 conference in Brisbane, Queensland!

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