Developing a Cultural Protocol for Evaluation

Alison Rogers, Madeleine Bower, Cathy Malla, Sharon Manhire, Deborah Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Evaluation is understood to be important for ensuring programs and organisations are effective and relevant. Evaluation findings, however, can be potentially inappropriate or not useful if those who have an in-depth understanding of the context are not involved in guidance, direction or implementation. The Fred Hollows Foundation's Indigenous Australia Program (IAP), with more than half of its employees identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, has developed a cultural protocol for evaluation to strengthen the quality of its program evaluations, whether they are carried out by internal staff or external evaluators. The development of the protocol was initiated after an evaluation capacity building appraisal identified the potential benefits of increased external support to undertake evaluation activities, and the requirement for this external support to be undertaken in a culturally appropriate manner. The protocol was developed by combining IAP's experience and knowledge with contemporary evaluation and research approaches, particularly those developed for use in cross-cultural settings, with the aim of producing a meaningful and locally relevant resource. The protocol aims to assist staff and external evaluators to ensure that evaluation activities are undertaken with the appropriate respect for, and participation of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities. Consistent with IAP principles, those involved in the process of developing the protocols sought to ensure that engagement between staff, evaluators and evaluation participants occurs in culturally-appropriate ways. IAP believes that the protocol will contribute to stronger evaluation practices, deeper understanding and thus, more useful outcomes. This article describes the process of engaging IAP staff with contextual evidence and the literature around cultural protocols to create a meaningful tool that is useful in our particular context. The process of development described will be useful for: organisations undertaking initiatives that source external evaluators; internal evaluators engaging with external expertise; or evaluators linking with organisations working in a cross-cultural setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalEvaluation Journal of Australasia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Indigenous
  • Cultural Protocol
  • Program evaluation


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