We are trusted researchers for Women’s Legal Service Queensland; priding ourselves on the inclusion of the voices of survivors of domestic and family violence in our work, using ethical research methods and producing findings that allow WLSQ to demonstrate impact and improve services.
In 2014, Rachel and Katy conducted an evaluation of the WLSQ telephone advice line and evening advice clinics. This mixed method research included data analysis, focus groups with volunteer solicitors, in depth interviews with domestic violence survivors and interviews with women’s and domestic and family violence service providers. An endorsed ethical research plan guided all interview processes.
The evaluation recommended replacing the telephone advice line with a Helpline staffed by paraprofessionals using triage, risk assessment and screening methods to prioritise legal advice services for women in highest need and at highest risk. Since implementing this recommendation in 2015, WLSQ has been able to assist 700 per cent more women, while improved data collection systems have enabled WLSQ to better understand client need, including levels of unmet demand.
In 2019, Rachel and Katy conducted an impact evaluation of WLSQ to understand their impact for clients. This mixed-method research included a literature review, interviews with domestic and family violence service providers, in-depth analysis of service data, client impact surveys and in-depth client interviews. These evaluation processes were conducted within an ethical research framework and included the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women with disability. Where needed, women were supported with professional interpreting services and Easy English interview guides. Women were also empowered to identify other support needs, such as having a support person present during the interview or available for contact after the interview.
The research allowed WLSQ to demonstrate the safety impact its services have for women, including preventative and early intervention benefits.
Design and impact evaluation of a financial empowerment app
In 2017, Rachel conducted and designed an evaluation of a financial empowerment app developed by WLSQ, called Penda. The evaluation of Penda included a literature review to ensure the app’s design was informed by evidence from similar financial empowerment initiatives internationally. The research also involved an iterative process of engagement with domestic violence survivors—before work commenced on the app, once an early draft of the app was available, and then at the final testing stage prior to the app’s launch. This allowed the app to be drafted using language that survivors of domestic violence would have used about their situation (rather than technical or legal language). The app’s language, structure, content, design and functionality were all directly influenced by the input of women with lived experience of domestic violence. The final impact evaluation was able to demonstrate that many of the most highly valued features of the app were a direct result of this input.
Evaluation of a multilingual app
In 2019, Sue conducted an impact evaluation of an updated version of the financial empowerment app (Penda) that incorporated key sections of the app translated into Russian, Vietnamese, Tagalog (Filipino), Mandarin and Arabic. Organisations who support women from non-English-speaking backgrounds who are experiencing domestic and family violence were interviewed in relation to the usefulness of the translated app. Analysis of app usage data and in-app feedback data also provided a range of useful insights into the information needs of this vulnerable group of women.
WorkAbility Qld was a four-year strategy to prepare the Queensland workforce for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, implemented by a consortium of industry peak bodies. Katy was the independent evaluator for the strategy and Gretchen and Sue had a role in quality review. The evaluation involved four stages beginning with the development of a theory of change, followed by baseline studies of three locations where the strategy was being rolled out. Katy then did an outcomes evaluation of the strategy in two regions and an evaluation of the consortium approach.
The evaluation was used to improve the strategy as it was rolled out across Queensland and help consortium members and governments understand success factors and pitfalls for similar place-based and industry-led arrangements.
The Creche and Kindergarten Association (C&K) contracted Katy and Gretchen to conduct a process and results evaluation of a pilot between C&K and Montrose Therapy and Respite Services. The pilot was initiated as a response to the NDIS. It was designed to provide additional support to children with developmental and learning needs enrolled at C&K’s kindergartens and childcare services.
A participatory action research approach supported development of the pilot over its 18-month timeline. Three reports were prepared over this period. Qualitative and quantitative data collection included professional diary reflections, activity data, surveys and interviews with parents and professionals, focus groups with professionals, and a combined end of pilot workshop with staff from C&K and Montrose.
The final report highlighted the benefits achieved for families, educators, therapists and the two organisations. Areas where improvements would have enhanced outcomes were also presented. The report also outlined key success factors to guide future work using a partnership approach for assisting children and families who would benefit from extra support. Proposals were also made for service models to be considered for implementation within the emerging NDIS environment.
The Meeanjin Markets is a biannual Brisbane showcase of Aboriginal arts, crafts and culture, run by the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. When the markets received government funding for three-years, Katy and Gretchen were asked to come on board as the evaluation team to assist the markets to grow, increase its impact for local Indigenous businesses and their communities, become more financially sustainable and ultimately be included as a signature event within Australia’s national event calendar. Katy and Gretchen work closely with the Meeanjin Markets team to gather data to inform their approach to meeting their goals.
The markets are growing in prominence and sales are increasing for stallholders. The Meeanjin Markets team use the evaluation reports to focus their efforts on things that are working, emerging opportunities, and for tweaking processes that have not had the desired result.