Participatory monitoring with Kungkas Can Cook (2019)

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Overview of the project

Kungkas Can Cook is a café, catering and bush foods business based in Alice Springs, specialising in ethically sourced, organic bush food from the Central Desert.

Kungkas Can Cook has a strong social purpose and promotes foods that have been enjoyed by Aboriginal communities for over 40,000 years. Kungkas Can Cook have shortened the supply chain so that local women harvesters benefit from every purchase.

In 2019, Kungkas Can Cook worked with Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) on two community development projects: (1) to increase efficiency of financial processes; and, (2) to develop a website that reflects the voice and social purpose of the business.

For more information on the journey of Kungkas Can Cook, and the social purpose of the business, visit:  

Overview of the evaluator and the evaluation

Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development organisation. ICV is a non-profit organisation that has developed internal monitoring and evaluation capability as part of an extensive monitoring, evaluation and learning program that has been running since 2014.

ICV is invited to work with communities to co-design and deliver community development activities that are chosen by communities. Participatory monitoring is built into all activities. Learnings are shared with communities and ICV regional teams into a cycle of continuous improvement in practice and delivery of community development projects.

For more information about ICV’s approach to participatory monitoring and evaluation go to: (archived link)

This example focuses on the participatory monitoring practices of ICV while they were working with Kungkas Can Cook in 2019. As an internal evaluation, integrated into program delivery, the evaluation uses a participatory action research approach to co-design and deliver the project objectives. Participatory monitoring used the ‘seed to tree’ questionnaire, transect walking, video and audio recordings of semi-structured interviews (approach adapted from the style of Most Significant Change and Appreciative Inquiry), photography and observation.

For more information, read the case study that Rayleen Brown, Founder and Owner of Kungkas Can Cook, co-authored with ICV in 2019 after the BetterEvaluation interview:

Kungkas Can Cook: passion, dedication and clear social purpose

Assessment of good practice – how was the evaluation rated?

Interviews were conducted with the Kungkas Can Cook founder and owner and with the evaluator to assess the ethical practice in the evaluation approach.

Interviews, of approximately seventy minutes, took place with the interviewer meeting privately with both the client and the representative of the organisation conducting the evaluation (the evaluator). The client interview was not recorded.  After discussion with the client, the interviewer typed notes, shared and read them with the client, who confirmed the notes represented the discussion.  The evaluator interview was recorded and notes typed after the interview.  Final interview notes were provided to the client and the evaluator for final confirmation; the recording was also provided to the evaluator.

Interview notes were examined by the interviewer and key elements of the interview notes were summarised in the Table below. This also includes reflections from the interviewer summarising significant issues across both client and evaluator interviews.

The ratings of the evaluation practice were guided by the ‘seed to tree’ scale:


Summary of the ratings:

Both the client and the evaluator rated the participatory monitoring and evaluation process at the highest rating throughout a total of 7 assessment points with responses in the ‘excellent’ category (a numerical rating of between 65 and 100). 

Overall, how would you rate the evaluation in terms of ethical practice?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

The client felt fully involved in the process.

Tracking and monitoring was regular and focused including both checking for understanding and how the client was feeling (affective domain). 

The client felt understood particularly in term of the realities of the workplace and was able to work from a strength-based approach.

A range of tools were used to support the process.

Client control was strongly considered a vital aspect of the working relationship.


Some discussion included ways of how the client can take over all aspects of the process and that this was an important component of ownership and client control.


An area of need was identified in regard to the client leading the process.

Differences in how the client and the organisation understand terms such as leadership, engagement and partnership may warrant further exploration in design phases.  This may include explicit discussion and or additional support to unpack the process rather than using the process to guide the client’s understanding of evaluation.

Prioritise self-determination, community agency and self-governance

  1. How would you rate the community’s level of involvement in the evaluation?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

High levels of involvement that enabled the client to feel heard, had the right to speak up and share openly.

High level of involvement was noted however the organisation felt that at times the client needed to ‘hold the pen’ where monitoring processes may become visual materials that the client engages in on a daily basis.

The need for clients to see evaluation as an ongoing process rather than an end point.

Both the client and the organisation agreed that community/client involvement was the key to successful outcomes.  There were some differences in what this looks like within each of the groups.

Facilitate control and data sovereignty

  1. How would you rate the level of ownership the community had, and now have, of the evaluation and the data that was collected as part of the evaluation?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

The client felt that the organisation worked respectfully alongside, this was stated several times during the response.

The data was given back to hold:

“All materials were provided to me”

“my words”

Data is always checked and given back to the client.

There is a lot of data often produced and there is an ‘active’ form of ownership over the data

Evidence in the discussion suggests that while owning the data is important there is some further work to be developed to support the client to re-engage with the data after each project or during each project.

Developing an understanding of how data can be used more continuously may be an important next stage of data sovereignty.

Communicate transparently, build trust and obtain individual and community consent

  1. How would you rate the communication and trust built with the community as part of the evaluation?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

Organisation-client communication is clear.

Explanations were checked for understanding.

Evaluator was open, clear and available.

Trust is developed over time and over a number of projects.

Client needs to see evaluation separate to the partnership.

Organisation is aware of the how evaluation needs to be rigorous and separate from the partnership.

High levels of trust were reported by both the participant and the community/client.

An area of concern raised by the organisation was how to ensure the evaluation is rigorous and critically reflective where trust levels are high.

Strengths-based recognition of cultures, acknowledging communities and individuals

  1. What value was placed on the strengths and culture of the community?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

There was a great sense of respect and value shared by the client. 

Client seen as cultural leader and felt the organisation provided her with esteem, that recognised a strength base as person and business owner.

Tools used in the process enabled the client and organisation to identify ‘where the client was at’ rather than starting from 0.

Respectful of where client is at and asks ‘where do you want to go’ this allows the client to set the steps and stages for growth.

A strengths-based approach starts from where the client is ‘at’ within the current scale.  This means understanding what is already happening and identifying measurable ‘next steps’.

It may be useful to consider how big picture and broad next steps can build capacity and who defines this or how it is shared between client and organisation.

Share benefits and apply two-way learning

  1. How would you rate the level of benefit the community received from the evaluation?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

A high level of benefit was perceived by the client.

Enabled a clear vision and development of the business that included a sense of freedom, connection to place, people and vision.

This was a journey of walking together.

Community track and decide on their own levels of growth.  This is vital to a sense of being heard and ownership.  At times it is important to understand outcomes for individual objectives rather than overall project outcomes.

To fully benefit from the process the organisation engages in self-reflection through feedback loops with the client.  This must push the boundaries of the relationship beyond supportive and strengthening to engage in critical practices.

Formalise accountability processes on ethical practice

  1. How would you rate your formal processes to ethics and your behaviour towards the community?

Client Response

Evaluator Response

Interviewer Reflections

The client felt the organisation was accountable with high levels of communication and ‘great respect’.

Formal and informal critical relationships are vital to the growth of the organisation and this is a difficult boundary.

Consistent checking with the client is vital.

Some structures or processes that support the formal and informal relationships are vital and well addressed in the organisation.

With thanks to:

The interviewees: Rayleen Brown, Founder and Owner, Kungkas Can Cook & Maddi Ginnivan, in her role as an internal evaluator and Community Development Officer (NT), ICV.

The interviewer: Ms Donna-Maree Stephens, Research and Project Manager, Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division, Menzies School of Health Research.

Putting principles into practice – how was it done?

Read more about how the M&E approach was implemented and how the community benefited from it.

Referring back to the Ethical Protocol, read more about how the M&E work with Kungkas Can Cook put the principles into practice.

Download the full write up of this example:


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A special thanks to this page’s contributors

Rayleen Brown, Founder and Owner, Kungkas Can Cook; Maddi Ginnivan, in her role as an internal evaluator and Community Development Officer, ICV; Donna-Maree Stephens, Menzies School of Health Research.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Maria Stephens, an Arrabi/Binning woman who speaks the Iwaidja language. She generously provided her artwork for this page.




This is part of a series

These are good practice examples of evaluation and participatory monitoring of Kungkas Can Cook. These examples are part of a bigger project which seeks to share examples of good evaluative practice from communities across Australia.

'Participatory monitoring with Kungkas Can Cook (2019)' is referenced in: