The Big Push forward: The Australian Debate (Oct 2011)

October 26, 2011 by Chris Roche.

On 19 October 2011, Oxfam Australia hosted a ‘Big Push Forward‘ event in Melbourne with the co-conveners of this initiative – Rosalind Eyben and Irene Guijt. Sixty development practitioners, including AusAid staff and academics came together to discuss whether the concerns voiced by the Big Push Forward project are relevant in Australia.


Following an introduction from Rosalind and Irene, we  had short inputs from three speakers on how these issues resonated in our part of the world.  Dennis Altman, from the Institute of Human Security, at La Trobe University suggested that the neo-liberal language which permeates Western society has been recast in the development world. into an auditing culture, focusing on evaluation, monitoring, and counting beans.  Marc Purcell the CEO of Australia’s International NGO umbrella group ACFID noted that the commitment to international aid in Australia is extremely brittle, and that the public debate about aid in Australia has led to a deep anxiety in government about how the aid programme is being perceived. But he argued that maybe it’s no bad thing for economists to look at the work of ‘pampered NGOs’. Jess Dart, the Managing Director of consulting company Clear Horizon, felt that whilst Australian NGOs do more internal evaluation than most there was a view expressed at this year’s Australasian Evaluation Conference that ‘development is the cowboy of evaluation’.  If we can’t tell the story of what we’ve done, people will ask for results. There are lots of really good methods out there and we can use these to offer solid alternatives to tell more complex stories of transformation.

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The Evaluation of Storytelling as a Peace-building Methodology

Experiential Learning Paper No. 5
January 2011

This paper is the record of an international workshop which was held in Derry in September 2010 on the evaluation of storytelling as a peace-building methodology. This was an important and timely initiative because currently there is no generally agreed method of evaluating storytelling despite the significant sums of money invested in it, not least by the EU PEACE Programmes. It was in fact PEACE III funding that enabled this examination of the issue to take place. This support allowed us to match international experts in evaluation with experts in storytelling in a residential setting over two days. This mix proved incredibly rich and produced this report, which we believe is a substantial contribution to the field. It is an example of the reflective practice which is at the heart of IPC’s integrated approach to peace-building and INCORE’s focus on linking research with peace-building practice. Built on this and other initiatives, one of IPC’s specific aims is to create a series of papers that reflect the issues which are being dealt with by practitioners.

Foreword 4
Introduction 5
Presentations, Interviews and Discussions 13
Final Plenary Discussion 52
a. What we have learned about storytelling 65
b. What we have learned about the evaluation of storytelling 69
c. What next? 73
Appendix 1: Reflection Notes from Small
Discussion Groups 75
Appendix 2: How does storytelling work in violently divided societies? Questioning the link between storytelling and peace-building 112
Appendix 3: Workshop Programme 116
Appendix 4: Speaker Biographies 118
Appendix 5: Storytelling & Peace-building References and Resources 122

PS: Ken Bush has passed on this message:

Please find attached an updated copy of the Storytelling and Peacebuilding BIBLIOGRAPHY.  Inclusion of web addresses makes it particularly useful.

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