Community-Based Research Scheme

Project Details

MASS (Mansfield Autism Statewide Service)

The purpose of this project was to develop a program logic and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for the Mansfield Autism Practitioners (MAP) service. The MAP service provides home based practical support to families living with autism. Mansfield Autism Practitioners (MAPs) are available at times when families need support most, working outside of school hours to deliver support at key times for families. MAPs stay within the family home, or in alternative accommodation nearby, providing intensive support to reduce disruptive behaviours and increase adaptive behaviours. Quality of life (QoL) was identified as an outcome of interest to measure the effectiveness of the MAP service. The monitoring and evaluation framework will guide future data collection activities by MASS, with a focus on evaluating service effectiveness, implementation, and cost benefits in the longer term. In turn, these findings may be used to apply for further funding to extend this framework and conduct further research or evaluation on the MAP service. The framework includes further guidance on data sources and suggested data collection points.


We are Vivid (referred to as Vivid) is a not-for-profit organization based in the Murray area of regional northern Victoria that provides support to adults between 18 and 65 years of age who have an intellectual disability. Services provided by Vivid include day programs, individual support, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planning support, and access to transport. Vivid also offers services related to employment, such as transition support for school leavers and supported employment through partnership with local businesses. The aim of this literature review was to identify Australian and international evidence-based practices to support the improvement of Vivid’s services for adults with autism in regional and rural Victoria. This includes providing information on what Vivid can implement as part of their services, informing Vivid’s clients about best practices, and supporting clients to make informed choices about the services they receive. Findings from this literature review also extend to supporting connection with prospective clients to ensure that all who are eligible are being reached. This includes members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse clients, and community members who may not be aware of Vivid’s services.

Down Syndrome Vic

Down Syndrome Victoria partnered with Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) to demonstrate an approach for achieving positive health outcomes for children with Down syndrome and their families across Victoria by piloting the delivery of a specific Down syndrome clinic and family healthcare tool, co-designed with paediatricians, families and people with Down syndrome. The pilot will then be upscaled across Victoria. The aim of this evaluation is to provide an initial evaluation of the specialised Down syndrome clinics. More specifically this evaluation aims to: build evidence around the use of specialised clinics for children with Down syndrome and their families; and inform the continued scaling and funding of the pilot project with the aim of improving consistency and delivery of care for children with Down syndrome on a national scale. A mixed-methods research design underpins this evaluation in order to capture the experiences of families involved in the pilot. An online survey was sent to families after their attendance at the clinic to capture their experiences and perceptions of impact. Following the survey, families were invited to participate in interviews/focus groups to explore their experiences in further depth.

Horses for Hope

Horses For Hope uses equine assisted narrative therapy to improve the capacity and quality of life of people significantly impacted by mental health, abuse, trauma and conditions such as autism. Horses for Hope are interested in building their capacity to evaluate their program, explore what elements of the program are most effective, and understand the impact of the program on participants. This project encompasses a literature review and the development of an evaluation framework for Horses for Hope. The evaluation team conducted a scoping review of evidence-based practices in equine assisted therapy, processes and practices underpinning positive change and outcomes for participants, and the range of benefits for those participating in similar programs (e.g. identity and self-perceptions, client-carer relationships, carers’ attitudes). The evaluation team is currently developing an evaluation framework that will guide future data collection activities by Horses for Hope, with a focus on evaluating program participants’ experiences, program effectiveness and use of best practices. In turn, these findings may be used to apply for further funding to conduct further research or evaluation on the program, with the objective of contributing to the research literature on equine assisted therapy.

Raise Our Voices

The Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) funded the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) to deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) project “Raise Our Voices – Disability Self-advocacy for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities”.

The project aimed to improve understanding of the disability service system for CALD Victorians with disability. It focused on building consumer voice, awareness of support pathways and ensuring that disability services and the NDIS continue to respond to, and include the needs of CALD consumers with disability, their families, carers, and communities. The evaluation focused on the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of one of the components of the Raise Our Voices project: the peer-led groups led by people with disability from CALD backgrounds. This evaluation examined both the process (how peer-led groups are implemented and established) and the impact (initial outcomes) of the peer-led groups on peer facilitators and people with disability participating in the groups. The evaluation also examined the sustainability of the current model and provides recommendations for further improvement and development of the program. Findings from this evaluation will allow ECCV to identify potential areas for improvement and refine subsequent iterations of the program.

Lawyers Empowering People Evaluation

Fitzroy Legal Service is developing a service model to improve their support for clients with disability. The Lawyers Empowering People Project (LEPP) involves co-designing and trialling new approaches to legal services to help people feel safe and empowered, make their own decisions and participate more in their legal cases. The evaluation examined how the LEPP project has been developed, including how staff have engaged with the project and the processes of working with people with disability as part of co-designing the service model. The outcomes of this evaluation will allow FLS to capture key learnings and considerations that can be applied to future co-design activities.


The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) provides individual advocacy support to disabled young people aged 12 – 25 who reside in Victoria. Over six years, YDAS has collected information about, and documented the experiences of, its young clients. The YDAS case files are therefore a rich and unique data set which holds insight into the advocacy issues experienced by disabled young people, including breaches of their human rights. Disabled young people have unique age-related barriers to accessing services and participating in the community. This can include not having legislated control over their support services (including their NDIS plans), gatekeeping or parental control. The data points contained within the YDAS advocacy files include demographic information about the young person, disability type, advocacy issues and other parties involved in the advocacy matter. The overarching goal of this research project is to develop a body of evidence about the systemic barriers and issues experienced by disabled young people, and subsequently for this evidence to inform and influence systemic reforms. This will also assist YDAS and other advocacy organisations to build a case for increased funding for disability advocacy services so more disabled young people can access advocacy.

Asperger's Victoria -Teens Work Know How Program - for neuro-divergent students

This program provides autistic teens in the mainstream school system with a positive pathway to supported work experiences (WE) to encourage them to continue with their education. This Program includes 1) specialist Autistic work readiness training workshops; 2) targeted work experience placements, 3) supervision by autistic specialist job coaches, as well as Parent workshops with resources, and resources for schools.

Amaze-One-to-one Peer Support Program for carers of Autistic Children with Complex Support Needs

Amaze was a successful recipient of the MDI Community Based Research Program Grants and were partnered with the Centre for Program Evaluation (CPE) to evaluate the Autism Peer Assist (APA) pilot project. The aim of the APA project is to support families and carers of autistic children by putting them in contact with other carers who have similar life experiences (peer mentors). We evaluated how well the project was running, whether carers thought it was helpful, and if there are aspects of the project that Amaze can improve. This evaluation was funded by a Community Based Research Scheme through the Melbourne Disability Institute. The aim of the Community Based Research Scheme is to help community organisations conduct research or evaluation of programs that are making a difference in the lives of people with disability and their families/carers.

Disability Resource Centre - The Buddy Network 

Autistic teen students are frequently at risk of disengaging from formal education, schools are under-resourced to support their work experience and hidden learning / communication needs and parents who are stressed and lack supports in growing student career pathways. This Program instead creates improved self-esteem & communication skills, greater inclusion at school, career thinking and school engagement with an improved and resourced circle of support.