COutts J&R were involved in evaluating the TRaCK program www.track.gov.au. TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge) is described on its website as a research hub under the Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities scheme, managed by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, drawing together more than 70 of Australia’s leading social, cultural, environmental and economic researchers. The program’s research focuses on the tropical north of Australia from Cape York to Broome.
Our evaluation completed in April 2010, included secondary data analysis, a survey of researchers and informed persons and workshops with program management.
Evaluation of the Drought Support Worker program in NSW
Coutts J&R with colleague John McKenzie recently completed an evaluation of the Drought Support Worker program within Industry & Investment in NSW.
The program involved having staff help coordinate support and provide specific assistance to those rural families affected by drought. The evaluation highlighted at the positions provided a broader role than just dealing with drought – also coming to the fore at times of fires, floods and other disasters. Their role were seen as very valuable and providing a critical niche not filled by others. It was pleasing to see the that program has been continued for at least another 12 months.
Mid-term Review of SheepConnect
Coutts J&R undertook a mid-term review of a very interesting program in Tasmania – Sheep Connect. It was mainly a desktop review, but did include some input from informed persons. Sheep Connect follows on from a very successful 8×5 Project which Coutts J&R has also had the opportunity to evaluate in the past. An interesting feature of the program has been the way it is clear about its different market segments which assisted both the targeting of activities and in undertaking evaluation.
Northern Tasmanian Natural Resource Management Association: Evaluation of Best Practice Salinity Management
Coutts J&R is undertook an evaluation of the Best Practice Salinity Management Program in Tasmania (NRM North) to assess its effectiveness in achieving its stated aims – particularly in terms of capacity building and practice change.
The Best Practice Salinity Management Project was funded by the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. Beginning 2006 and finishing at the end of June 2009 the project has a budget of $2million. The Project includes activities in the Southern NRM region of Tasmania, and a variety of sub-projects and consultants. Activities have included on-farm salinity demonstrations, trials, development of farm salinity plans, glove box guides and fact sheets, trials of plant-based salinity solutions, incentives and field days.
The evaluation process included surveys, workshops and secondary analysis.
Evaluation of Defeating the Weed Menace R&D program
The ‘Evaluation of Defeating the Weed Menace R&D program’ was completed by Coutts J&R. It focused on researcher, staff and informed person feedback and the program management and used surveys, interviews and secondary data analysis. The evaluation found a high level of management excellence by the program manager, her team and Steering Committee, good performance by the researchers despite a shortened time frame and early indications of direct impacts on policy and R&D funding.
Jeff Coutts and Amy Samson were involved in the evaluation of an ambitious event run by Dairy Australia with support from the Federal Government called DairyLive. This event used video streaming to connect 8 venues across the country as well as using a website for those who could not attend. The evaluation included the use of participant observers at the venue and on-line, feedback sheets – including a web-survey for the on-line users, and records and statistics.
‘Drought lots for drought assistance’ review project – Lachlan Catchment Management Authority / NSW DPI
The evaluation of this project looked at the success and effectiveness of distributing incentives through workshops in the LCMA. Interesting results emerged and were included in the final report.
Review of the use and impact of incentives for on-ground change – Burdekin Dry Tropics NRM
This project was commissioned by Burdekin Dry Tropics Natural Resource Management Regional Body in North Queensland and is a comprehensive study of the use of on-ground incentives/market based instruments (MBIs) to bring about improvements in natural resource management. The study looked at attitudes, processes and impacts and included a survey of: landholders who tool up incentives; those that applied and failed to receive funds; those that chose not to apply; and those who were unaware of the availability. It also interviewed informed persons around Australia with extensive experience in such programs as well as reviewing available reports and studies on the use of incentives/MBIs in other areas. A key outcome is a table drawing together the lessons learnt at each stage of the process providing guidelines to those planning or administering such programs. You can see the report at http://www.bdtnrm.org.au/projects/lsaincentives.html
Evaluation of the 8×5 Wool Productivity Program Tasmania
This evaluation at the end of 2008 followed on from a mid-term review in 2007. It used a Bennett’s Hierarchy framework to look at the impacts of the project funded by AWI and undertaken by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research (TIAR). This was an extension based project faced with a state wool industry severely affected by drought. It used grower groups, workshops, field days and a newsletter to provide support, information and foster changes in management. The evaluation used a mixture of surveys – growers involved in groups, those that participated in some events, and those who only received the newsletter; interviews with informed persons; participant observation at project events; and analysis of secondary data. The evaluation reported a high level of practice change as a direct result of project activities – in relation to the comparative level of involvement in the project.
Evaluation of the Sustainable Industries Initiative: Natural Resource Management Delivery in the Australian Cotton industry
The evaluation was undertaken in 2008 to see how well it met its objectives and also ‘how has exposure to the information and activities of the initiative impacted on people’s awareness and (re)thinking about Natural Resource Management issues relevant to the cotton industry and its catchment communities.’ The project aimed to establish collaborative partnerships between Regional NRM bodies and the Australian Cotton industry; facilitate the delivery of NRM outcomes; develop and promote resources for capacity building; and increase the adoption of good NRM practice. The evaluation used: secondary data; and informed persons survey; case studies; and collated participant feedback from project activities. Among other conclusions, the evaluation found that there was good evidence that the project stimulated interest and fuelled the conversation about how NRM management is best incorporated into farm and catchment management.