The National Breastfeeding Helpline Evaluation report

1.3 Evaluation of the Breastfeeding Helpline

Page last updated: 13 February 2013

Evaluation objectives

Evaluation of the Breastfeeding Helpline has the following objectives:
  • assess the effectiveness of the Helpline.
  • report on the efficiency, transparency, cost-effectiveness and appropriateness of the Breastfeeding Helpline; and
  • recommend options for addressing any significant issues that are identified that might warrant changes to the content, coverage or operation of the Breastfeeding Helpline.
Project tasks included:
  • development of the evaluation framework; and
  • implementation of preliminary evaluation.
This research paper describes the evaluation approach and the findings of the preliminary evaluation.

The quality and content of training provided to Breastfeeding Counsellors working on the Helpline was out of scope for this project other than the extent to which, for example, counsellor feedback on training needs and access has potential implications for the training provided. Breastfeeding education provided to health professionals is enmeshed in the funding for Breastfeeding Helpline counsellor education and was similarly out of scope other than the extent to which stakeholder feedback reflects on the level of awareness of the Breastfeeding Helpline resource and active referrals.

High level questions

The evaluation posed a series of high level evaluation questions to enable assessment of the Helpline in achieving its outcomes. These questions, listed in Box 1.4 guided the establishment of indicators of performance and determination of the underlying data sources.

Existing data sources available to the evaluation included ABA information and data, including reports provided to the Department as part of its funding commitment.

New data sources identified for the evaluation included:
  • counsellor and caller perspectives through online surveys;
  • ABA and Department input on the expectations and operation of the Breastfeeding Helpline through interviews;
  • cost effective analysis using comparator helpline scenarios;
  • professional associations and jurisdictional feedback through interviews; and
  • priority populations groups’ perspectives through focus groups.
The methodology for evaluating the Breastfeeding Helpline is summarised in the evaluation framework discussed more fully in the following chapter.

Key Evaluation Questions


The following key evaluation questions were developed to frame evaluation of the extent to which the National Breastfeeding Helpline is achieving the desired outcomes of the service.

Access to breastfeeding advice support for mothers, partners and their families:

  • Has the Breastfeeding Helpline service been implemented as intended?
  • To what extent have mothers and their families utilised the service of the Breastfeeding Helpline?
  • Are callers satisfied with the support provided by the Breastfeeding Helpline?
  • How well is the Breastfeeding Helpline utilised by priority population groups?

Standards for counselling / quality of information and support:

  • Do the minimum qualifications for a Breastfeeding Helpline counsellor comply with requirements of the national regulator AQSA?
  • Are there appropriate bridging courses available to counsellors that meet the increased compliance requirements?

Enhancement of breastfeeding counsellor skills:

  • Is the training provided for Breastfeeding Helpline sufficient to ensure the supply of a skilled workforce and the sustainability of a quality, responsive Breastfeeding Helpline service?

Greater awareness among health professionals:

  • Is there improved knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding and the role of the Breastfeeding Helpline?

Expanded network of volunteers and health professionals aware of breastfeeding education opportunities:

  • To what extent are ABA education and training opportunities taken up on the provision of advice and support for breastfeeding?

Source: The Allen Consulting Group