7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Rebecca Duell

Rebecca has worked in the not-for-profit sector for more than 15 years, primarily in the field of youth development. She is also an experienced researcher and has a PhD in sociology from Griffith University. Rebecca's PhD research explored how social justice could be better embedded into sustainability theory, and into the practice of food system re-localisation. Rebecca currently works as an internal evaluator for the YMCA of Brisbane, where she leads the organisation’s evaluation capability building work and primarily conducts utilisation-focused program evaluation. Rebecca is passionate about collaborative and participatory research and evaluation practice. She is an Industry Fellow at the QUT Faculty of Health, School of Psychology and Counselling, a member of the YMCA Australia National Social Impact Leadership Team, and on the Australian Evaluation Society Queensland Regional Committee.

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Participatory Visual Methods in Applied Research and Evaluation: Co-creating an Australian network

The use of participatory visual methods, such as digital storytelling, drawing, participatory filmmaking and photovoice, have long been used in community settings and have become increasingly popular amongst researchers in industry and academia. Such methods have been called democratising, and also held up as developing ‘empowerment’ and ‘giving voice’. At the same time, it is increasingly acknowledged that the use of such methods can be over celebratory, lacking the critical lens of more established methods, and regarded as producing less robust data. There are also important questions around ethics including cultural and legal issues that need to be considered, as well as the implications of participation for individuals and organisations.

A recent call was made by a group of Australian based practitioners and researchers to create a space for capacity building, sharing of expertise, and critical reflection. This space would have a particular focus on the use of such methods for applied and policy-based research and evaluation in collaborations between communities, NGOs and Universities. Recognising that dialogue and discussion with others enhances practice, knowledge and skill development, this workshop will provide a place to discuss and shape an Australian-based participatory visual methods network, bringing together community, industry and university-based researchers, evaluators and practitioners, and those undertaking research as part of their studies. This will be informed by, and feed in to, global debates undertaken by the International Sociological Association Visual Sociology Group (ISA RC57), and the International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA), among others.

Participants will be invited to discuss questions such as:
- What are the needs of community, industry and university-based researchers and evaluators in Australia with regards to using participatory visual methods for evaluation and research?
- How might an Australian-based network be shaped to support and add value to evaluation and research practice?
- What activities and events are needed to enable this network to thrive and be sustainable?

Information generated from the session will be available to all participants and those interested and unable to attend. These findings may form communication for an Australia wide network on participatory visual methods which will complement global activities by other professional bodies and networks.

In the spirit of collaboration, this workshop is also supported by the International Sociological Association Visual Sociology Group (ISA RC57) who will host a series of sessions on participatory visual methods at the World Congress of Sociology in Melbourne, 2022.