About RDI Network


The Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network began in 2009 as a Committee of ACFID, facilitating partnership between ACFID Member NGOs and Australian universities. It has formerly been known as the Universities Linkages Network, and as the ACFID University Network.

In 2016, the Network launched with a new brand under its current name, and continues to work in close partnership with ACFID. The RDI Network secretariat is hosted by ACFID in its Canberra office.


The Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network has the following core objectives:

  1. Champion and provide leadership in effective development research, evidence and practice

  2. Strengthen cross-sector partnerships and linkages in Australia and with developing country research institutions, including stimulating and supporting partnerships between ACFID members and Australian universities

  3. Improve sector capacity to undertake effective and ethical development research and education

  4. Improve uptake and use of research and expertise to inform policy, practice and discourse across the Australian development sector and more broadly


The RDI Network brings together a diverse range of researchers, practitioners, evaluators, policymakers and other stakeholders who share a common interest in seeing international development research have positive impact in contributing to sustainable development. The Network is free and open to all, currently including over 1000 individual participants.

Current Initiatives

A selection of the current priority initiatives which the RDI Network is undertaking include:

  • Capacity building tools for ethical development research and evaluation

We are developing a training module for the application of the Principles and Guidelines for Ethical Research and Evaluation in Development (PDF) to support researchers, evaluators and practitioners in the specifics of ethical research and evaluation practice in international development. This practical training module will be made available to Network participants in 2017.

  • Policy and practice impacts of research

Drawing on the government-funded Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS), this analysis work aims to investigate, document and bring visibility to impacts of this research on development policy and practice. It will also explore factors that contributed to achievement of these impacts in order to provide an evidence base for further enhancing development research investments.  

  • Case study methods and tools for learning and impact

NGOs and universities working in international development are well-placed to present their work, expertise and experience in the form of case studies. Case studies have a diverse range of formats, uses and applications.

In order to contribute to more effective training and teaching of students, researchers and practitioners, and to encourage critical thinking and analysis, the Network is working to develop a resource kit to assist teachers and trainers to better use case studies for the purposes of learning.

  • Development of a dedicated RDI Network website

In order to better facilitate engagement, discussion and interaction within and beyond the Network, a dedicated RDI Network website is being developed and launched in phases throughout 2016/17. Phase 1 has now been launched, with the second and final phase scheduled for May 2017.

For more information about the Network's current initiatives, please contact us.


Strategic leadership and oversight of the Network is provided by the Research for Development Impact Committee (RDI Committee), which consists of an equal number of NGO and university representatives who provide support, guidance and direction to the Network’s core objectives and activities.

Participants who work for an ACFID Full or Affiliate Member organisation are eligible to be nominated to the RDI Committee. Nominations take place on a three-yearly, rotational basis.

The current members of the RDI Committee are:


Dr Tessa Hillgrove, Fred Hollows Foundation

Joanna Pradela, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

Prof. Juliet Willetts, University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Dr Chrisanta Muli, Oxfam Australia (on leave)


Joanne Crawford, International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA)

Dr Jane Hutchison, Murdoch University

Dr Patrick Kilby, Australian National University (ANU)

Dr Robyn Mildon, Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI)

Associate Prof. Joel Negin, University of Sydney

Jackie Robertson, Transform Aid International

Dr Elise Klein, University of Melbourne

Associate Prof. Kurt Seemann, Swinburne University

Prof. Mike Toole, Burnet Institute