ARTD's evaluation of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program has been endorsed by the Independent Evaluation Committee for Australian Aid. The Committee noted the report was thoughtful and based on strong analysis. ARTD was commissioned to evaluate this program, which places volunteers with organisations in 37 countries, to enhance its effectiveness.
ARTD’s evaluation of the Mental Health Consumer Perceptions and Experiences of Services (MH-CoPES) Framework has been published on the NSW Consumer Advisory Group Inc website (NSW CAG). The Framework has four steps—data collection, data analysis, reporting and feedback, action and change—that NSW mental health services are expected to implement in repeated cycles. NSW CAG was funded to develop the Framework to provide a way of ensuring mental health consumer perspectives inform service quality improvement. Consumer involvement in evaluation is a requirement of the National Standards for Mental Health Services but previous research shows a number of barriers to this, including staff attitudes toward consumer participation, lack of clarity about how to engage consumers and support to do so, and fear consumer participation will lead to unrealistic expectations. Consumers can also be reluctant to engage in evaluation processes because of fear of repercussions, concerns about maintaining their privacy and confidentiality, and prior experience of tokenistic consultation.
Our evaluation of the MH-COPES Framework drew on a literature scan, a survey of all services, and consultation with service managers, staff, consumer workers and consumers.Key findings were that following significant investment in the Framework by the NSW Ministry of Health and strong support from senior management, most mental health services in NSW had begun implementing the Framework. However, they had encountered a number of barriers in doing so. After the initial two-year implementation period only a minority of services had completed all four steps. But positive experiences among those that had done so suggest the Framework has the potential to support consumer participation and feed into quality improvement if some adjustments can be made to the Framework, consumer questionnaires, and structural supports.