Abstract: The expectations placed on an evaluator working in an Indigenous context are often great. The ideal is someone in close relationship with the community, employing culturally sensitive methods, fostering broad community involvement, transferring evaluation skills and contributing to a process of empowerment and positive social change. The hard reality is that evaluators are most often outsiders with limited resources and precious little time to spend in the fi eld. By ‘outsider’ I mean someone not of the people, culture and place. They are typically short on contextual understandings and need to work across many project sites. This precludes the possibility of any real bonding with the participants. Furthermore, outsiders often struggle to ‘hear’ correctly and to elicit meaningful information from Indigenous people due to cultural barriers and poor rapport. Perhaps only a handful of locals will choose to become more than peripherally involved in an evaluation. These are major impediments that give rise to very real tensions between evaluation principles and practice. This paper refl ects on these tensions in the context of the national evaluation of the Australian Government’s Stronger Families and Communities Strategy (‘the Strategy’).