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W3 Project Impact Analysis

This post about a project report is part of our written publications series

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What Works and Why (W3) Project: Understanding what works and why in peer-based and peer-led programs in HIV and hepatitis C – Impact Analysis

Authors: James Dunne and Graham Brown

Date published: 2019

Published by: The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University in 2019

Report overview

Replacing ‘believing’ with evidence

During 2018 and 2019, peer and community organisations across Australia piloted the W3 Framework and tools. In most cases, pilot trials took place at program and organisation levels. However, in some cases, organisations also trialled the W3 Framework at a system level in their relationships with funders.

This extended period of piloting the W3 Framework signalled the need for an interim analysis. We were keen to explore how organisations used the W3 Framework and what impact this had on their work.

The report presents its findings through 4 case studies that outline work done with the W3 Framework:

  1. Harm Reduction Victoria is a state-based, peer-led organisation for people who use drugs. Harm Reduction Victoria took a whole-of-organisation approach, applying the W3 Framework at both program and organisational levels.
  2. Living Positive Victoria is a state-based, peer-led organisation for people living with HIV. At Living Positive Victoria, they applied the W3 Framework across program, organisation, and system levels.
  3. The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) is a national peak body whose members are community and peer organisations working within the HIV sector. AFAO adapted the W3 Framework into a new broad theory of change for their work and that of the AIDS Councils.
  4. The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) is a peer-led national peak body whose members are peer-led organisations for people who use drugs. AIVL used the W3 Framework at a system level to create a uniform language and way to describe peer processes and overcome long-standing stigmas toward drug user organisations. They are also using the W3 Framework at a program level to guide conceptualisation, planning, and monitoring and evaluation of their projects.

The case studies explore both how each organisation used the W3 Framework and how this impacted their work.

Overall findings

Although these trials happened across diverse contexts, and at different levels, we found some common themes emerging. Overall, organisations found that W3 supported them to:

  • Collect more meaningful data
  • Increase peer staff confidence and motivation to use peer evaluation methods
  • Capture the unique impact of peer-led action
  • Build stronger evidence of the impact of peer work within the national blood-borne virus response

In essence, the W3 Framework helps replace a sense of believing that peer-led actions work with evidence proving that they work. It also provides a consistent language to describe how peers contribute to Australia’s blood-borne-virus policy goals. Furthermore, using the W3 Framework helps organisations streamline their monitoring and evaluation practices. This both decreases the workload for staff and makes the process less onerous for clients.


The posts in this series take some of our most important written publications and talk about them in plain English.

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