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Research is the story of 65,000 years of learning from observing what was happening. We passed this on through the stories of old people. This is research. This is what we are doing now – evaluating what we do at Children’s Ground. We are doing research our way and the Western way. William Tilmouth, Founding Chair of Children's Ground

With a comprehensive Research & Evaluation Framework, we are evidencing the impact of the Children's Ground Approach. 

A 25-Year Longitudinal Evaluation 

Through a 25-year longitudinal evaluation, we measure change in education, health, economic, social and cultural outcomes for our families.

Our evaluation has Human Research Ethics Committee approval. It is guided and overseen by a national Research Advisory Group (see below), consisting of experts in child development, health and wellbeing and community-led research.

Community Governance, culturally responsive and strength-based

As First Nations people, we have been the subjects of research and evaluation in different forms since colonisation. Almost always, this research involved collecting data from us and taking it away to be analysed with no feedback on the outcomes of the research. 

Children’s Ground’s monitoring, evaluation and research are governed by First Nations people. The community co-designs, executes, analyses and reports on the outcomes. 

Nothing about us without us William Tilmouth, Founding Chair of Children's Ground

Children’s Ground's Research & Evaluation Framework

At Children’s Ground, we define key indicators with the community to ensure culture and strength are embedded and recognised in progress measures and outcomes indicators. 

Decades of evidence confirm that the greatest return on investment in social and economic terms is achieved by starting early and responding to all key social and cultural determinants of health and wellbeing.

Traditional outcome measures are often focused on deficit, disease and death. While these indicators are important, they can undermine or fail to recognise strength-based indicators critical to shifting ultimate wellbeing when assessed on their own.

Our Approach is broken into five-yearly strategic development plans and annual progress indicators. These inform a comprehensive evaluation report every three years. Over time, we are evaluating the quality and impact of our work across outcomes for children, families and communities, as well as processes in system, service and practice reform and change.

Our impact will only be genuinely understood over a generation when children growing up with Children’s Ground are young adults. These kids will become the majority: people who have experienced positive education, health and cultural learning from their earliest years. They will have voice and agency over their own lives and have experienced inclusion and equity in education, health, social and economic life.

View our reports

We've been researched to death, now we're researching ourselves back to life William Tilmouth, Founding Chair of Children's Ground

Our Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

Our Monitoring and  Evaluation Framework has nine key outcome indicators for children, family and community.

Each of these has short and medium-term indicators that are the building blocks of long-term change. This allows us to report back to the community, our investors and partners. It will build an evidence base for an approach to achieving equity, inclusion and addressing extreme disadvantage over the long-term.

Our Monitoring and Evaluation Framework includes:

  • Daily monitoring against key progress indicators for each outcome for children, families and community
  • Quantitative analysis of internal and external administrative data
  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis of short- and long-form interviews and surveys
  • Developmental evaluation at community and organisational levels of practice, delivery, system and environment
  • Systems evaluation: quality, integrity and standards, efficiency and effectiveness of the Children’s Ground Approach
Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

View our research and evaluation framework


Research and Development

There is insufficient rigorous research and evaluation undertaken in Australia around complex inequity and First Nations solutions. Researchers, services and governments in Australia continue to rely on international research that is decades old and conducted in vastly different contexts. 

Children’s Ground engages in research agendas and projects related to the Children’s Ground Approach and other First Nations-led approaches. We support community-led research priorities and contribute to national and international evidence bases. 

Reforming mainstream research methods and practice is critical to First Nations empowerment and self-determination.  


Our Research Advisory Group

We work with a group of respected researchers and academics that conduct research and evaluation projects in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community settings. Their areas of expertise include child development, early years and primary school education, health and wellbeing, family wellbeing and community-led research and development.

Our Research Advisory Group Members

Professor Fiona Arney

Director, Positive Futures Research and Arney Chong Consulting

Professor Sally Brinkman

Professor of Education and Paediatric Epidemiology. University of South Australia

Mr Matthew James

Senior Executive, Deputy CEO, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Dr Tim Moore

Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Professor Sven Silburn

(ret. previously) Director, Centre for Child Development and Education, Menzies School of Health Research

Professor David Thomas

Public Health Research, Menzies School of Health Research

Professor Komla Tsey

Tropical Leader/Research Professor, The Cairns Institute and College Arts Society and Education, James Cook University, Bebegu Yumba campus

Dr Jordan Corey

BSc, MBBS, GDip Surgical Anatomy, MPH ’21 Candidate, Harvard University, 2020 Fulbright Future Scholar

Research partnerships

Alongside our research priorities, we partner with key research institutions and organisations to contribute practical evidence about how to redress complex and extreme disadvantages in Australia and globally.

All research work aligns with the rights of First Nations people and prioritises empowerment and self-determination. All research projects, partnerships and opportunities are reviewed and approved by First Nations Governance Groups in the relevant Children’s Ground region.

Early stage evidence

Our early-stage evidence shows progress. Our three-year evaluation of Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe (Children’s Ground Central Australia) found that:

  • 82% of children (0-5 years) across four communities engaged in early years learning (223 children). Before Children’s Ground, only 14% had previously engaged in early learning.
  • 89% of families reported that children’s physical health (their body and nutrition) and emotional health (their mind and behaviour) was better or much better.
  • 100% of families reported that families are ‘walking alongside their children’ more or a lot more.
  • People who previously lived with chronic unemployment are working. 84% of First Nations staff were not working when they started at Children’s Ground and 34% had never worked.
  • 63% of families and staff reported feeling safe, comfortable or free at Children’s Ground (without being directly asked about feelings of safety).

Read the summary report of Children's Ground Three Year Evaluation of Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe

Evaluation of Ampe-kenhe Ahelhe: Children’s Ground in Central Australia
We are speaking up at meetings, we are telling our story at conferences, we are pushing ourselves to lead. We’re in the driver’s seat now – everyone else can get in the back seat. Kwementyaye Gorey, Senior Arrernte Educator (d)