By Erland Howden
Title: Hope & determination
Practice: Data visualisation and generative design
Issue: Asylum seekers and refugees
Possible change: Targeted at changing Australian attitudes toward asylum seekers and demonstrating to decision-makers, such as the Immigration Minister, that significant support exists in the Australian community for a change to more welcoming and compassionate policies around asylum seeker claims and resettlement of refugees.
Design action: A poster series to be distributed to local pro-refugee organisations that highlights one person or family each who has resettled or is claiming asylum in Australia. The posters would display an image representing the asylum seeker and an aspect of the person’s story chosen to engender compassion and empathy in the audience, with a clear message advocating a change in asylum seeker policy.
The scholarly research I conducted has strongly influenced this design proposal. One paper in particular investigated determinants of attitudes to asylum seekers and suggested that, “encouraging people to adopt a macro justice perspective may be a useful addition to community interventions.” (Anderson et al 2015) With this in mind, the policy change messages for the poster series would be designed to prompt a macro justice perspective. For example, they might include phrases along the lines of, ‘everyone deserves a chance to live in safety.’
The posters fit into the emergent practice of data visualisation in that they apply designerly thinking to visualise the data of asylum seeker stories, which have been collected by organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and GetUp, or published by news organisations such as The Guardian. Further to this, there is another element to my proposal that brings in an aspect of generative design – the poster series would also incorporate a template design that local pro-refugee organisations could use to highlight the stories of refugees and asylum seekers they are directly working with. In this way, the design proposition becomes something that applies research to create communications more likely to change attitudes, while being localised and as relevant as possible to the audience.
In discussing this proposal, the key feedback I received was around fleshing out the generative aspect of the proposal. Originally, I just wanted to create a strict template and guidelines for the poster, but since discussing the proposal with my group, I’ve been exploring ways to make the generative aspect more open and able to accommodate more diverse outcomes. For example, rather than creating a strict guide for photographic portraits, I was thinking that space could be created for a variety of images that might represent the person whose story is being told, like an artwork they created or an alternative photographic treatment. Additionally, rather than a strict print poster series, which might have limited uptake from under-resourced community organisations, I’ve been considering a digital template which could be used on websites and social media that delivers the same outcome in different media.
Featured image: US Department of Defense 1975, ‘South China Sea’, US National Archives / Flickr, viewed 27 September 2016, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/23123589306 >.
Anderson, J.R., Stuart, A. & Rossen, I. 2015, ‘Not all negative: Macro justice principles predict positive attitudes towards asylum seekers in Australia’, Australian Journal of Psychology, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 207-213.