Issue 6
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor Emma Williams … recognised internationally for professional skills and abilitites
Associate Professor Emma Williams … recognised internationally for professional skills and abilitites

Rare air for evaluation expert

By Patrick Nelson

A Charles Darwin University academic has received international recognition for her professional expertise as an evaluator.

Associate Professor Emma Williams of the Northern Institute this month received word that she has been designated a Credentialed Evaluator by the Credentialing Board linked to the Canadian Evaluation Society, the only organisation in the world where this designation can be gained.

“The application process requires evidence of expertise and experience in multiple areas,” Ms Williams said.

“One part of the process involved demonstrating adequate expertise in 49 aspects of evaluation, including evaluation theory and design, qualitative and quantitative analysis, ethics and managerial skills.

“All of that is examined by two eminent evaluators, together with other evidence, before the designation is awarded.

“This means that I am recognised internationally for my professional skills to assess programs, strategies and policies for their value and quality.

“Evaluation is increasingly recognised internationally as a means of ensuring public investments in social policy are providing value and quality outcomes.”

Ms Williams said there were only about 320 Credentialed Evaluators internationally, and they were quite rare in Australia.

“As an evaluator, I assess the impact of a policy or program, looking beyond whether targets have been met to determine, for example, which groups are better or worse off as a consequence of interventions.”

Ms Williams’ career in evaluation, research and program development in Canada and Australia has moved between academia, public service and private practice. 

A former manager of the Northern Territory Government’s social policy agenda, she is now Principal Scientist for the Evaluation and Knowledge Impact area at the Northern Institute. This area also contains the Realist Research, Evaluation and Learning Initiative, which is the first “realist evaluation” hub south of the equator, able to develop approaches suited to local contexts.

Similarly, Ms Williams has been working with the Australasian Evaluation Society for more than two years to investigate what models for the professionalisation of evaluators would work best in Australia and New Zealand.

“Maybe in a few years, if we succeed, I won’t be in such rare air,” she said.