History of the CCRE

Discover how the Centre for Community Research and Evaluation evolved from 2004 to now.

Practice Research Forum

The centre has its origins in 2004 with a forum hosted by Christa Fouche and Neil Lunt at Massey University. It concerned these researchers that there was a low profile of research activity in local social work practice. The forum explored questions related to: How much research is undertaken at the front line of social work practice? What are the impediments to research as a feature of practice? How can research undertaken in practice settings inform good social work practice? How can we grow the use of evidence in practice settings?

The following points were noted from the forum with a number of senior practitioners and academics in attendance:

  • A low research base exists in New Zealand across a range of fields of practice (level)
  • There was a lack of practitioner confidence in undertaking and making use of research (confidence)
  • That practitioners expressed interest in hearing more about small-scale practitioner research (commitment)
  • There was a broader gap in theoretical understanding around how practitioners make use of research findings and incorporate ‘evidence’ into their work and decision-making (uptake)

Growing Research in Practice

These responses stimulated the ‘Growing Research in Practice’ (GRIP) project – a joint initiative by academics from Massey University and the University of Auckland: Christa Fouché, Neil Lunt, Liz Beddoe and Phil Harington. Social workers from a variety of agency settings were invited to attend a workshop where a strategy to support research undertaken by practitioners were outlined. Deborah Yates joined the team as project manager and Glenda Light as a ‘critical friend’ and adviser on practitioner perspectives.

As a result the GRIP programme sought to generate debate and skill development within the discipline that could improve the readiness of practitioners to undertake research and for social services to see research as a key part of the contribution they can make to the wellbeing of the client’s communities and staff. The programme developed a collection of resources and culminated in a symposium where practitioners presented their research.

To boost the work and resources required to support the project the GRIP researchers gained support from: The Families Commission's Innovative Practice Fund, the Ministry of Social Development's SPEaR Linkages fund and the ASB Trusts in partnership with the ANZASW. The University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work Research Fund and The University of Auckland Staff Research Fund. The research team has published extensively and presented at national and international conferences.

Community Action Research and Evaluation Network

Subsequent to this very successful initiative, there were many requests for ‘GRIP 2’, but the resourcing proved challenging. Eventually we opted for close relationships with a few agencies, implementing the learning from the GRIP project and developing interesting projects and advancing research-mindedness. By late 2011 it became clear that we need to get these initiatives under one umbrella and this lead to the development of a Community Action Research and Evaluation (CARE) network supported by a very active steering group.

The CARE network aimed to develop research and evaluation capacity through targeted support and research networking opportunities between partner agencies with which we’ve had existing working relationships. This network sought to create opportunities to share experiences and learning, to help raise standards in research implementation, dissemination and utilisation. It soon became clear that the need was greater than the existing network and calls for the development of a non-traditional research Centre was supported by the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland and the Centre for Community Research and Evaluation (CCRE) was formally established in 2017.