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MER fundamentals with Goondoi - the 'why', 'what' and 'how'

Goondoi are rapidly developing an understanding and appreciation of what a well-designed monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) program can do for them.

Although they already collect data as part of monitoring programs (water, cassowaries, and biodiversity), Goondoi had not connected these programs or the information they produce to their own values or how it might inform better land/cultural management. This misunderstanding is more common than it ought to be - where groups just collect data in established MER programs, rather than having a say in what data is collected and to what should be done with it.

We’ve addressed this across three meetings with Kishaun (Goondoi CRA) and Manni (Goondoi GM) to introduce fundamental MER principles, including what we term the ‘why – what – how?’ hierarchy that should guide each MER programs development. This hierarchy follows that ‘why’ a monitoring program is being undertaken should be identified first, as this informs ‘what’ data is needed, and ‘how’ it should be collected.

Kishaun and Manni easily identified the ’why’ in this Pilot Project – to identify and track the health of Indigenous values across the GBR. The next step is to figure out what this means for Goondoi and how to activate it through a well-designed MER program - that is, figure out the what, and how.

Learning note:

Until now, Goondoi have undertaken monitoring (very competently, we might add) without a clear idea of how this information relates to their own values or operations.

TO groups need support to understand why they monitor something. All monitoring should be aimed at telling them something about what is important to them. This comes from having a clear and coherent monitoring framework that connects all data being captured on the ground to their values – that is, people collecting the data should know that it is going to tell them something important. Ideally, the monitoring outcomes should then inform improved management.

Next step:

Assist Goondoi to put this monitoring framework into their own context, which will directly shape their MER framework implemented by this Pilot. 

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