Research and Evaluation

Sonder is dedicated to implementing evidence based practices as part of service delivery and undertaking high quality research and evaluation activities.

Research activities seek to answer questions with the intent of generating new knowledge and/or understanding through systematic and scientific enquiry. Evaluation activities broadly describes the process of determining if a program is making progress towards its goals, establishing the effects of a program and generating data to inform decision making and reporting to stakeholders.

Research and Evaluation Principles

Research and evaluation activities are guided by the following principles:

  • To optimally deliver services and make efficient use of available resources
  • Continually develop high level understanding of the needs and resources within the local community
  • Generation of evidence to understand the effectiveness interventions and programs
  • To develop, deliver and evaluate evidence-based interventions
  • Establish and participate in collaboration opportunities wth higher education institutions and other stakeholders on the development, dissemination and funding of research
  • Ensure the sustainability of services through establishing supporting evidence for their efficacy

RECoP Overview

With the increase in research capacity internally within Sonder, an in-house Research and Evaluation Community of Practice (RECoP) was launched in 2018.. The mission of the RECoP is to “strengthen the capacity of Sonder to implement evidence based practices as part of their service delivery and undertake high quality research and evaluation activities with programs delivered by Sonder”. The community of practice is dedicated to working with partners both internally and externally to further the research and evaluation profile of Sonder and increase he organizations research capacity.

Our Researchers

Cally Jennings, Research and Evaluation Officer. Dr Cally Jennings joined Sonder in late 2017 and is responsible for the development and implementation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks to evaluate and deliver research outcomes for a range of the programs delivered by Sonder. Cally completed her PhD at CQUniversity before undertaking a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Alberta, Canada. Cally has extensive experience in working with multidisciplinary, multi-strategy, community wide health promotion programs both nationally and internationally. Such programs include, 10,000 Steps in Australia and UWALK Alberta in Canada. Cally has a population based approach to health behaviour change and is currently using this expertise to embed implementation research practices and outcomes into routine service delivery with the aim of understanding program effectiveness and improving the quality of service delivery.

Anna Mazzacano, Research Assistant

Anna Mazzacano joined Sonder as a Research Assistant in May 2017 and is responsible for coordinating and managing the IMPACT Research Study (Improving Mood with Physical ACTivity) within headspace Edinburgh North. Anna oversees the facilitation and delivery of the study and is responsible for participant recruitment, maintenance of the electronic case report form, assessing clients for eligibility and symptoms of depression and anxiety and management of research study procedures.

Anna completed her Bachelor of Psychological Science, Bachelor of Social Sciences and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) majoring in social policy at the University of South Australia and completed a South Australian Parliamentary Internship in 2016. Within her role as a Parliamentary Intern, Anna undertook social policy research and published a research paper on behalf of a Member of Parliament.

Anna also has experience as a Research Intern at the University of South Australia, where she assisted with the facilitation of a research study regarding cognitive reserve in older Australians, and has previously undertaken comparative research to explore policy and practice across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Anna’s research interests include the facilitation of better mental health outcomes through lifestyle interventions and the improvement of the social services sector through policy development and implementation.

Peter Musiat, Headspace Research Assistant

Current Projects


Sonder works closely researchers to undertake data collection around patients’ experiences with cancer services as part of the CanDAD Project. The CanDAD project was initially funded by the NHMRC and is a collaborative partnership between UniSA, and the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Research Unit, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAMHRI), among others. The CanDAD project seeks to develop an integrated, comprehensive cancer monitoring system with a particular focus on Aboriginal people in. The project is nearing completion, following initial data collection the researchers have developed a preliminary Patient Reported Experience Measurement (PREM) tool to capture patient experience in Aboriginal people receiving cancer services. Sonder staff have now been exclusively trained to use the tool developed as part of the research project. Sonder continues to be committed to finalising the PREM tool as part of the CanDAD project and has partnered with UniSA and SAMHRI to apply for Stage 2 funding to refine the tool for wider scale implementation.

IMPACT Project

Sonder continues to deliver the IMPACT Research project within headspace Edinburgh North. The IMPACT Research Project is a NHMRC funded research project and is being conducted by Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health and the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with Sonder and headspace Edinburgh North.  The IMPACT Research Project aims to investigate the effectiveness of implementing a brief physical activity intervention in addition to usual treatment, as a means of alleviating symptoms of depression in young people.

Throughout the last year, Sonder has continued to house a Research Assistant dedicated to the delivery of the IMPACT project. Sonder continues to generate a high number of referrals to the IMPACT Research Project and has been successful in recruiting more than one-hundred and twenty participants to date. It is anticipated that the project will conclude recruitment in December 2018, with study results expected to be published in late 2019.

headspace Online Intervention Project*

Suicide is a major threat to the health and wellbeing of young people. The headspace Online Intervention Project will investigate how young people with suicidal thoughts can be better supported when accessing mental health services. We will offer individuals accessing headspace Edinburgh North or headspace Onkaparinga to use an online program for reducing suicidal thoughts. Participants in this project will be given questionnaires before and after using the intervention to help us better understand whether this online intervention is effective in reducing thoughts of harming oneself, as well as whether young people like using the intervention.

headspace Brain and Mind Youth Platform Project*

One of today’s greatest challenges in mental health care is to ensure that individuals received the most suitable intervention at the right point in time. In this project, we will integrate an innovative online platform into treatment at headspace Edinburgh North and Onkaparinga. On the platform, headspace clients are comprehensively assessed with regard to their mental health using a range of self-report measures. The platform was developed by the Sydney Brain and Mind Centre and identifies the stage of illness of the individual. In addition, it helps identifying appropriate evidence-based treatment options. This project will investigate whether using the platform improves service experience for users and staff, and whether it is acceptable to young people.

* This project is part of the headspace Enhancement Initiative Program (hEIP) funded by the Adelaide Primary Health Network. hEIP aims to support headspace centres in undertaking one-off, innovative activities that contribute to broader capacity building, workforce development, evidence-based research, knowledge sharing and/or awareness raising in the field of youth mental health.

ATSI use of My Health Record

Extending upon this partnership and commitment to Aboriginal Health, in 2018 Sonder partnered with UniSA to apply for NHMRC funding to examine the “Use of my health record in chronic disease management and rehabilitation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations”. This project aims to investigate the knowledge and adoption of My Health Record and highlight its benefits in an ATSI community, as part of a coordinated care initiative.


Sonder is working closely with Helen Mayohouse, Womens and Childrens Hospital to support the delivery and implementation of a Group treatment program for infants and mothers with borderline personality disorder. This program is addressing a vital service gap to treat severe and complex mental health issues of young mothers and improve mother-infant relationships.

This program is to commence in late 2018.

Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Services

Sonder has partnered with DASSA and SA network of drug and alcohol services (SANDAS) to assist them to recruit participants to test the effectiveness of routine outcome measures in Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment with a focus on client outcomes. Measures will be tested over 6 months within a number of NGO organisations to determine the usability of the measures and undertake preliminary analysis of outcomes for people accessing treatment services.

Reports, Program Evaluation and Research/Publications

  • Palliative Care Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  • Allied Health Services Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  • HEAL Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
  • Yarning Group Evaluation Summary
  • CTG Stall Holder Evaluation Summary


As part of Sonders’ commitment to Research and Evaluation we welcome opportunities to collaborate with partners including, government, corporate, education and research institutions and other not for profit organisations to develop high level evidence based knowledge and implementation research. Sonder is uniquely positioned not only as a service delivery agency but also with our capacity to provide in-house research and evaluation expertise. We are dedicated to pursuing funding opportunities and generating evidence to inform evidence based practices.

Sonder is extremely proud of our past and present partnerships including the following organization and we acknowledge their valuable contribution to strengthening our research and evaluation capacity.

  • UniSA
  • Victoria University
  • Orygen
  • The University of Sydney
  • Adelaide PHN
  • Helen Mayo House, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide
  • Flinders University
  • SA Health

For research, evaluation and funding collaboration enquiries please contact our Research and Evaluation Officer, Cally Jennings (