Post 5: Looking at the Approaches to Design for Change, Design-Led Ethnography

By: Jannie Mach

Researching on Asylum Seekers and Refugees combined with Mental Health makes me feel as an independent needed to do something to help but there I see no starting point. I’m aware that the word ‘care’ is important also human duties/ responsibilities as I was looking for more information about the issue. To see a better understanding, I had conducted an interview with one participant on the perceptions of Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

Interview questions:

  1. Do you have a general personal view about Asylum Seekers and Refugees?
  2. Do you think there’s a need for Policy change in Australian on Asylum Seekers in Australia?
  3. Do you feel like elements of the media has a particular bias on this issue? If so, in what way?
  4. What aspects of this issue do you think would benefit from design interventions? Can you think of an example?
  5. Do you think there is a common view of the issue among your peers? Can you think of an example?

The participant has limited knowledge on the issue, which I find it intriguing. Her views are neutral- neither negative or positive about Asylum Seekers and Refugees. However, she feels distrust and stated that Australia is required to take safety precautions from these people. “We need to keep our guards up by increasing security and more background check.” The thought of terrorist attack and due to the media, the participant is scared and in fear on the capability of having no documents, visas or any identification to track the Asylum Seekers and Refugees. She doesn’t believe what everything the media says although she expresses, “We only have that connection to the outside world.” The participant suggests to design a better living system that ‘treat them less than prisoners’ and ‘monitored for good behaviors.’ Furthermore, it’s not surprisingly to hear her response on her friends/peers that they’re not socially or politically involve with this major issue due to their interests, environment, and surroundings.

I had created a probing exercise, to challenge and see my chosen participant views and opinion of the Asylum Seekers and Refugees. This was led to a soft side and leaning towards an emotional aspect of how she felt about the issue.

The Probing Exercise:

  • Research 3-5 articles on Asylum Seekers and Refugees
  • Analysed and select the text that has a strong impact on you
  • Colour code them based on your feelings

It was quite an interesting way to see her approach in this exercise since I haven’t given any specific list of emotions and the use of colours, which she expressed by:

  • Blue: feelings of disbelief and sadness
  • Red: feelings of anger
  • Orange feeling of uncertainty
  • Green: feelings of surprised


A documentation based on the participant response. In this case, using the colours such as blue and red to express how she feels with the selected phrases/words.


As a result, her views remains the same, “I feel that my position is still quite neutral. I believe that it is unfair that refugees and asylum seekers are being treated so poorly. However, I also understand that such regulations and rules must exist to keep our country safe.” I actually wanted to take this into more of a visualisation data, it would be perhaps a greater or better way to see her perspectives instead of a document format. I didn’t want to overload the exercise due to the given time period- I thought more of as a fun approach to take on this social issue.

I guess it didn’t quite work out that well or a correct way due to a person’s views/opinions or feelings won’t change as quickly as possible. However, it was nice chance to see how the participant feels about Asylum Seekers, Refugees and the Government overall.

“I don’t agree with the way politicians are currently handling this situation. I feel that they should take more responsibility on this issue, be more open and honest to refugees/asylum seekers and citizens of Australia, instead of trying to hide or cover up the problems.”

Five Point Summary: 

  • Looking at various emotions
  • The structure of understanding the probing exercise
  • Seeing how something perceived in a different manner
  • Analysing/investigating new data from yourself
  • A blend in psychological factors

Notes: I had realised I shifted away from Mental Health in Asylum Seekers and Refugees, which I needed to keep it consistent and absorb more information because it’s an interesting area, where I can establish new thoughts and process later on.

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