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Research projects


A Literature review and study of the co-design process within the OCHRE evaluation

This study continues the examination of the OCHRE evaluation process that so far has looked at the challenges, aspirations, and motivations of NSW Aboriginal Affairs staff the evaluation within their dual roles of Aboriginal community member and public servant; and the challenges and tensions in obtaining local Aboriginal community consent for the evaluation including the meaning of consent, and the management of consent processes.

The evaluation of OCHRE takes as its starting point collaboration between those responsible for the conduct of the evaluation and local Aboriginal communities. Commonly referred to as co-design, co-creation or co-production, co-design empowers local communities to tailor the OCHRE initiative in their community to develop so that it suits their own context. The evaluation is carried out with and by local people rather than on them with the evaluation questions, how the initiative’s impact is measured and the methods for achieving this, and the nature and delivery of the initiative co-designed.

The approach requires evaluation processes that are purposefully designed to create an environment where co-design can flourish including developing the evaluation capacity of local communities and building trust. Collaborative partnerships inevitably bring complexities including negotiating logistics, competing priorities, competing values and interest, and challenges to research governance, flexibility and timeframes. This study will examine these with a view to identifying the challenges and tensions in designing the evaluation in each location and possibilities for addressing these.


Return of public lands to Aboriginal control or ownership

Dr Heidi Norman, University of Technology Sydney, has been engaged to examine the historical and current policy context relevant to the return of public lands to Aboriginal control or ownership in NSW. The study will provide an overview of the emerging issues and outline the areas that may benefit from further research inquiry. The study will include a review of the NSW, national and international academic and grey literature, recent court cases, ethnography and in-depth interviews with leading experts in the administration of Aboriginal land and management and analysis of land registration records.


Aboriginal community consent for social research

Gaining an Aboriginal community’s permission or agreement for research or evaluation activity goes to the very validity and integrity of research in Aboriginal contexts. Not only is the principle of ‘informed consent’ consistent with widely accepted ethical practice in social or human research, but ‘community consent’ is particularly important in Aboriginal contexts given an historical backdrop of Aboriginal people being either unwillingly subjected to, or unwittingly subjects of, research carried out by outsider institutions. Undertaken in partnership with Black Swan Consulting, this project will draw on the literature and experiences of the evaluators and NSW Aboriginal Affairs employees in seeking community consent for the evaluation of OCHRE, the NSW community-driven plan for Aboriginal affairs. The study will consider the challenges and tensions including the meaning of consent, and the management of consent processes.


A practical guide for public servants undertaking or managing research and evaluation activities with Aboriginal communities

This project responds to the findings of a previous study undertaken in partnership with Black Swan Consulting in 2016. This study examined the challenges, aspirations, and motivations of NSW Aboriginal Affairs staff in monitoring and evaluation spaces within their dual roles of Aboriginal community member and public servant.

This project will develop a practical guide to support public servants undertaking or managing research and evaluation activities in Aboriginal affairs in NSW. By grounding research and evaluation practice with Aboriginal communities from cultural, historical, social, post-colonial and political dimensions, the guide will customise and complement the NSW Government Evaluation Framework. The guide recognises the challenges faced by Aboriginal public servants in undertaking research and evaluation on Aboriginal Country.