The Evidence Portal

What is evidence-informed practice?

Evidence-informed practice means using evidence to design, implement and improve our programs and services. This evidence can be: 

  • research evidence 
  • lived experience and client voice 
  • professional expertise. 

See What is Evidence? for more information.

Why is using research evidence important?

When designing and implementing programs or services, it is important for program implementers to use research evidence to determine what will work best to improve client outcomes.

Using research to design and implement programs enables us to determine the expected efficiency, effectiveness, and potential impact of a new program prior to implementation. This means we can be confident our programs and services will benefit families and communities.

Research evidence gives us a greater understanding of what works, what works well, what doesn’t work and what needs to be changed. We can use this information to ensure our programs and services meet the needs of the families and communities we work with, in the best possible way. 

Using research evidence supports us to: 

  • Do more of ‘what works’ - using evidence helps us provide services that meet the needs of our clients and communities. We can use evidence to inform our decision-making, helping us avoid harmful or ineffective approaches. 
  • Explain our work - evidence helps us explain how we will achieve outcomes, why we have taken a particular approach or why we provide a particular service. 
  • Continuously learn and improve together – using and collating evidence helps us to continuously improve our services. We will learn from our programs, innovative pilots, research evidence and evaluations to improve our work. 

Why is practitioner expertise and client voice important?

Practitioner expertise is an important element of evidence-informed practice. Experienced practitioners have vital knowledge and skill sets related to direct practice with families and communities and the service systems they work in (e.g. building positive relationships, retaining clients).  Practitioners can use this experience to identify relevant research and interpret and apply it appropriately to their client’s situation (McCracken & Marsh, 2007). 

Practitioner expertise can also be used to identify if a program needs to be adapted for a client or in a specific context and if so, how. This is especially important when a new program or service is being implemented. 

Practitioner expertise should be integrated with client values and preferences. Having open and honest discussions with clients about the issues they face and options for how to address them is a key element of evidence-informed practice. Actively empowering clients to have their voices heard, to make informed decisions and to have real influence leads to services that are better tailored to individual needs, preferences and values. Incorporating client voice into program design and delivery help prevent avoidable harm and it results in better client outcomes.

How can evidence be used?

We should use evidence to ensure the children, young people, families and communities we work with receive the best possible service and achieve positive client outcomes. 

We can use evidence to: 

  • identify what works to improve client outcomes (e.g. research evidence about effective programs)
  • continuously improve program delivery and performance (e.g. modifying programs in response to new evidence and client feedback) 
  • identify local priorities and understand client needs (e.g. local knowledge about client needs, research evidence about particular client cohorts) 
  • improve client experience and service uptake (e.g., client satisfaction surveys, research evidence about programs with strong uptake).
Last updated:

16 Feb 2022

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Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

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