Established in 2011, BehaviourWorks Australia (BWA) is now the largest applied behaviour change research unit in Australia with a large portfolio of projects completed in the areas of health, energy, water, waste, pollution, biosecurity, education, social inclusion, finance and safety.
BehaviourWorks’ rapid growth and success has been achieved by working in close collaboration with a group of government and private sector organisations, which have helped us achieve our goal of breaking down the barriers that have previously prevented academic research from being translated into practice.
Persuading people is an art – and a science
BWA’s central premise is that most problems can be at least partially solved by influencing the behaviours that underpin them. By using insights from the behavioural sciences, organisations can avoid making misguided assumptions about the influences on behaviour (what matters to people) and the types of interventions that are likely to work.
Given the complexity of human behaviour, BWA employs PhD qualified researchers across the disciplines of psychology, political science, behavioural economics, systems thinking, knowledge translation, sociology and education.
Many of these researchers have worked in government and industry and are sensitive to the systems and processes of both the public and private sectors.
BWA researchers are not only connected to behaviour change practitioners in government and industry but to a worldwide network of behavioural experts located in some of the world’s most prestigious universities.
As such, they are across the latest research, trends and behavioural theories – and the application of these theories.
A partnership model
BWA was founded on the belief that academics can learn a lot from behaviour change practitioners and that better solutions can be found when we synthesise academic theory with practitioner experience.
While established as a Consortium with several government and industry partners, BWA also works with a wide range of other organisations on a project by project basis.
Apart from conducting research, BehaviourWorks seeks to share knowledge and project learnings with its partners so that they can build capacity and undertake behaviour change programs on their own.
Our work with practitioners has influenced the development of a comprehensive behaviour change methodology known as the BWA Method.
The Method includes a suite of tools for unpacking problems, identifying and prioritising behaviours and trialling interventions. The Method is currently being prepared for publication.