Northern Australia has a large Indigenous population, who often receive some of their services from organisations, the form of which is encoded in contracts. This is due to a governmental preference for the non-government sector (private or not for profit) to undertake the delivery of some services, a process which has taken hold in Australia over the last thirty years. This means that organisations must simultaneously meet the requirements of the funding body while delivering services that meet client needs. While ideally there would be no conflict between these goals, the reality is that on-ground delivery, particularly where Indigenous people are the primary clients, situations occur where the demands for service adaptation by clients (or others) creates tensions for organisations seeking to maintain contract compliance.
My research investigates how one organisation, Tangentyere Council, is exploring design and evaluation as practices to assist their navigation of these tensions, with the goal being to design and deliver more effective services that meet the needs of both funders and clients. It does this through engaging with the lived experience of undertaking an evaluation project in collaboration with the Council to develop analyses to assist those who grapple with the social and ethical realities that emerge in service delivery in a northern Australian context. The presentation will examine some of the knowledge making challenges inherent in this process.