For the duration of the FIVE pilot project, our core research team, Professor Peter Wright from Murdoch University as chief investigator and Natalie Georgeff from DADAA as co-investigator, worked with the larger FIVE team and communities on evaluating the project.
The evaluation framework for FIVE aimed to capture evidence around the project’s early development, as well as on its processes, short-term impacts and long-term outcomes. It considered effects on residential and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers and families, other participating groups, artists and arts workers, Rio Tinto and the larger community.
The FIVE research approach has followed a participatory action research model. The main framework used was the Five Ways to Wellbeing model, developed by the New Economics Foundation. Drawing from recent population health evidence, the model posits the following five actions in our daily lives as essential for wellbeing:
- Connect with people around you.
- Be active by discovering physical activity you enjoy.
- Take notice of the world around you and what you are feeling.
- Keep learning as new things will make you more confident and be fun.
- Give to the wider community, which is rewarding and creates social connections.
Our researchers also used Animating Democracy’s ‘continuum of impact’ in order to represent the complexity of outcomes.
A pluralistic approach was employed for data collection with in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with people most involved in the project, and electronic surveys for Geraldton and Esperance and Paraburdoo. The Most Significant Change (MSC) technique was used for data collection and analysis for Busselton, with MSC-type questions used in data gathering in the other communities.
The MSC approach was of vital importance in that thematic analysis of stories of change functioned to identity the key concepts and categories that emerged for each community, and to subsequently inform the quantitative content of the post-project evaluation.
The evaluation report’s key finding was that the project was successful in building both the depth and breadth of social connections – what Wright and Georgeff call ‘connected belonging’ – as well as improving wellbeing through self-expression. Over the five communities, 87.5% ranked ‘connecting’ as the strongest way to wellbeing.
Two key outcomes are highlighted as being most significant and consistent across each site. They are: ‘connecting in a creative space’ and ‘wellbeing through self-expression’ and capture the mechanisms by which arts participation in a community setting can have a positive impact on mental health.
The full report is available for download below.