Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Draft Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

Roses in the Ocean supports newly released Draft Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

The Australian Productivity Commission has released a draft Indigenous Evaluation Strategy. The draft strategy is a whole of government framework that clearly sets out guiding principles that Roses in the Ocean fully supports. Our values relating to deep listening, connections, authenticity and collaboration all align within the context of this new draft strategy.

As we continue to contribute to the growing evidence base for all aspects of lived experience of suicide and learn as an organisation from our evaluations, we are intentional and passionate about ensuring our evaluations are inclusive and culturally appropriate for the groups of people we are engaging in our work. This includes us proactively engaging with and where possible co-partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to design and conduct our evaluations. Through our Lived Experience Advisory Group and Lived Experience Collective we engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure our internal process evaluations are culturally appropriate and relevant. As we progress our work in this area, we will seek further opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to inform our evaluation work.

Tracy Wise, a member of our Lived Experience Advisory Group and proud Barkindji/Ngiyampaa Woman from the Wimmera Mallee region in Victoria shared her views on the draft strategy and ways Roses in the Ocean can implement its principles.  Key areas of focus are to ensure our evaluations are useable, credible, well planned and conducted ethically and with transparency. Martina McGrath our Research and Evaluation Officer acknowledges the release of the draft evaluation strategy is timely for us. While at the  early stages of developing our full research and evaluation program, as we do this work, we will make sure we proactively and meaningfully engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at every opportunity to learn from their perspectives and tap into their infinite wisdom. This will add so much richness and have a positive impact on informing our evaluation work.

At the chalkface of suicide

I experience the extraordinary privilege of being an educator. Teachers care deeply for students. My expertise in senior secondary brings intensity, achievement, and loss. Saying good-bye is never easy.

Sometimes I witness precious potential bloom into mature adulthood through future happenstance. What joy!

Other times, I witness precious potential prematurely lost through death by suicide. What sorrow! What regret!

Forever young they remain in my broken strong heart; a heart also forged by lived experience of teen suicide as sibling and as mother.

My students’ passing, though diverse in timing (in school, post-school), gender and culture, all have in common well-intentioned risk averse schooling institutions’ struggling to cope with these “incidents”, as they are framed.

Once funeral rituals end, unintended consequences of policy and community practices render the bereaved silenced, ignored, and isolated.

In the workplace I feel expectations to pull myself together, wipe away stinging tears and to move on, fast. Any faltering is constructed as a performance issue – a failure of my leadership.

Free external workplace counselling is conflicted; generous yet avoidant. Impacts of lived experience of suicide are distanced, obscured, hushed. Kept outside.

The stiff upper lip of Anglo dominant culture prevails, reducing those lost and those grieving as the ‘forever forgotten’.

I mourn the loss of yet another student, a young Aboriginal woman.

My lamentations as an outsider are invited and welcomed by her Aboriginal community.

Here I encounter extraordinary generosity of spirit amongst extraordinary transgenerational and intergenerational sorrow.

Here, suicide is more frequent.

Here it is named.

Rituals emphasise ongoing connection.

Those eternally re-membered and eternally grieving, are honoured.

Here healing begins.


Roma A.