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 to break down the barriers that have previously prevented academic research from being translated into practice.
In fact, 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.
Persuading people is both 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 most 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 business and the public service.
BWA researchers are also connected to a worldwide network of behavioural experts and are across the latest research, trends and behavioural theories and the application of these theories to real-world problems.
While we were established as a Consortium model, BWA also works with a wide range of other organisations on a project by project basis. These projects are both proactively sought through tender applications or reactive, via direct enquiries.
Apart from conducting research, BWA is committed to building the capacity of its partners to undertake behaviour change programs and to improving behaviour change literacy more broadly through its training programs.
Our work with practitioners has influenced the development of a comprehensive behaviour change methodology known as the BehaviourWorks 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.