POST 5: Approaches to design for change, design – led ethnography

For people living in such remote and damaged areas, it’s quite easy to think that most people are aware about the pain and trauma that refugees and asylum seekers live with everyday. The problem that Australian’s face in this issue is that most people don’t know about what really happens in detention centres. Therefore, the amount of information that will address this conflict isn’t present.

After personally sorting out my issue dilemma through classtime, I undertook my design-led ethnography through an interview and probing exercise, focusing on public perception of refugees and asylum seekers. I constructed a 5 question interview, allowing my interviewee to hopefully articulate and engage in conversation about the topic, away from public perception and the power of social media:

1. How often do you see stories about Refugees and Asylum Seekers publicised? (both commercial and social media).
2. How do you think they are portrayed, and is this portrayal affecting this perception?
3. Why do you think commercial use and digital media focus more on the negatives of the issue, and don’t utilise positive stories as much?
4. How can we benefit from a more positive response?
5. As a minority, what should be shown to public figures, like us for example? Do you think it’ll be beneficial?

Going into these interviews, there were two main reasons as to why I was skpetical. I was unprepared for the fact that my interviewee’s wouldn’t be quite familiar with my issue and what I wanted to focus on, and that I wouldn’t be able to obtain the right information to move forward. To cater for these setbacks, I fixtated my approach as a conversation, and not a formal interview. Allowing the interviewee’s to express their opinions through this exercise was not only becoming beneficial for me, but was ideal not only for the realisation of the issues being presented, but developing a thought process to cater for this issue.

I spoke to two of my peers who were happy to participate. As I had planned, conversing about this issue was something they were both comfortable with, and turned to be a successful exercise. By focusing my interviews on both a local participant and an international participant, I came to understand different views and interests on the topic, which opened my mind to new avenues of research and topics on the issue. With this in mind, I obtained 5 main points through my interviews:

1. Media shouldn’t change the idea of asylum seeking and refugees to display in the media. If these people want the public to fully understand what happens in these circumstances, there’s no need to water down the information.
2. In order to cater for refugees to live comfortably, we need more resources than the limited amount we already have.
3. There is no positive side that is shown on TV, social media, etc. Everything we see is negatively affecting the way we perceive asylum seekers and refugees.
4. The negative perception that is given to the public can ultimately affect refugees and asylum seekers and their perception of us.
5. Economically and politically, there are social activists always fighting for the cause, and we are just in the middle of a constant battle.

For my probing exercise, I wanted to reach out to a larger audience. The interview did justice to my probing exercise, now that I know that the public perception of asylum seekers and refugees is well and truly active. While only some of our perceptions collectively are positive and some are negative, I made a little probing exercise that extracts this information quickly. I had made up 10 flags of the countries that seek asylum the most, with a small table that only has a + and a – on it. My aim was to quickly generate this information, purely on the basis that the media has full control over the perception of these people. I generated information from 10 people, 2 of them being my interviewees.

The outcomes I received matched my definition of this perception, but also had a few surprises. The results showed:

– Middle Eastern and Asian countries were the most to be placed in the negative column.
– No one put Turkey in the negative column.
– The positive column was used 26% of the time.

After questioning the survey, all of my participants had similar views on how they perceived this issue through the media. On a personal level, they all had conflicting views. I feel privileged that I was able to gain access to these views. Even though most of my participants had a different opinion on the issue, I aimed to realise that this public perception is very much the same for most people. Looking back on this process, this was exactly the case. In all, I am happy with the way that these exercises went, and the amount of information I was able to receive. Due to the nature of the topic, it was hard to give all my participants, as well as my interviewees an appropriate exercise to work with to flesh out more information. In this particular circumstance however, it was clear that this was a benefit not only to me, but to everyone I worked with.

Peter Andreacchio (117678381)

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