Blog Post 8: Brainstorming Possibilities for a Design Response.

Approaching the end of task 2, I felt like I was still pretty (very) far away from pinpointing a specific issue for me to explore and really produce a result that was interesting and revealed at the same time something new, a pattern of sorts that could help clarify what is going on/what needs to be done. I had unfortunately missed out on this week’s class exercise of generating problem statements, so I generated my own at home.

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In my early brainstorming stages, I ended up generating multiple problem statements to look at the different issues and challenges that came with these ideas.

1. The first problem statement I made was ‘Lack of empathy, interest and engagement with the refugee crisis amongst younger audiences living in Australia and in other privileged countries.’ I felt like this problem statement for me should be the foremost due to being cultivated from a personalised context. Before beginning my active research into the refugee crisis in Australia, I had only been vaguely aware of what was going on with refugees. My views have shifted and consolidated a lot since choosing this topic and beginning a weekly research. From my personal point of view I felt the biggest obstacle for younger audiences from being actively engaged with a crucial global issue like this was that One, we are out of touch with the media – the only source of information regarding refugees I encountered before taking on this research task was via news articles posted in social network. It should also be noted that certain terms and political jargons frequently used are unquestioned – we rarely pause to really think about what the politicians are preaching, and misinterpret a lot of the information presented in the media, the truth fabricated by their agenda. Two, there is also a lack of incentive in taking up a personalised research task – younger audiences deem it too much work and time consuming to sift through articles, and more often than not the younger audience don’t really know where to begin their research. 

2.The second problem statement/question was ‘How are the recently settled in refugees dealing with their assimilation process in regards to the Australian social context?’ The official government sites state “The Australian Government provides a range of settlement services aimed at assisting humanitarian entrants and eligible migrants within their initial period of settlement. These services assist clients to become self-reliant and participate equally in Australian society and minimise longer-term reliance on support services.” So after the ‘initial period of settlement,’ passes, to what devices are the refugee community left with? How can we further help the refugee community create a lasting safe space designed to suit their needs?

3.The third problem statement was quite similar in relation to the second statement – ‘How can we as an Australian community assist with the turbulent emotional transitions refugees/asylum seekers undergo during their early resettlement period?’ I thought as empathy is a huge issue we need to tackle to really catalyse Australia’s response to the detention centre and refugee crisis, emotion is another that is also included in the broad spectrum that we should also consider from the perspective of refugees.


POSSIBLE DESIGN RESPONSE / 5 POINT SUMMARY
1. Service design available via web / app – connecting refugees with Australians according to their interests and neighbourhoods; like an email pen-pal. I felt however this might be too similar to the example shown in the lecture, where this type of service design had been introduced and implemented already – ‘Refugee Text Service’. I thought maybe instead I could also develop a service design connecting refugees with other refugees with more experiences who had been settled in earlier – I thought this could also encourage diversity and friendship between different refugee cultures, and promote Australians to learn more about other cultures as well, and be more in touch with their stories.

2. Art Gallery – In one of my past blog researches and twitter scrapes, I found out about ‘Eaten Fish,’ the Iranian cartoonist who won the ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’. Art is a medium for connecting with people  – holding an exhibition consisting of works by refugees could reach out more effectively and connect the Australian community more closely, provoking them to reflect on their mild levels of indifference.

3. Art Exhibition – works placing individuals into the shoes of refugees could also effectively communicate to the generally unassuming younger Australian audience about what the conditions in detention centres / offshore centres are really like – especially with the recent interest in virtual reality technologies, this could also be incorporated to really materialise this experience for Australian audiences.

4. Campaign/Live Art Performance – News reports and articles about the refugee crisis and the deteriorating conditions in Nauru and Manus are easily found across Australia’s main media platforms.Branching from the first design response idea, I thought of creating a monthly campaign encouraging people from different culture/situations to converse to each other in a public environment. There is a huge number of complication in this campaign however, as individuals with their own political agenda could misuse the public platform. I think one way to prevent this from occurring would be to make the platform only accessible for individuals genuinely willing to converse and learn more about the other’s culture, and one way of doing this I would assume is to receive written and signed agreement forms from participants, like a primary research interview. I haven’t really thought out this particular design response thoroughly, but I found this could be an interesting possibility if designed correctly.

5. Generative Design/ Campaign – Collecting data from the Australian audience and sorting it according to age demographics. I was thinking about creating a campaign that would involve the public to write a single word they associate with the refugee/asylum seeker issue. Or it could be like people filling in blank words on a series of half filled sentences.

I think for my final design proposition I’d be more interested in either the first design response (Service Design) or the Generative Design – the service design because it not only assists refugees experiencing difficulty in adapting to a foreign environment, but also because since it requires participation from the Australian public it also raises awareness. The generative design seems like a unique way to also raise awareness as well, and it could further be worked on to a unique visualisation of data.

References

Settlement Services for Humanitarian Entrants 2016, Settlement and Multicultural Affairs, viewed 21 September, <https://www.dss.gov.au/settlement-and-multicultural-affairs/publications/settlement-services-for-humanitarian-entrants#what_support_refugees&gt;