Post 10 —Reflection and Proposition


It’s funny how I felt quite confident before pitching my original proposal to my group member and tutor… and then the complete opposite after feedback. I explained my original two proposals: the first about a two books that acted as a representation of public attitudes (based on the very strong for/against attitudes found from my twitter data research). It would be presented in an official government document format to policy makers — the pro-refugee book would be obnoxiously thick to illustrate that majority of Australians (on Twitter) disagree with current refugee policies. Initially, I thought it was simple but embodied and interesting visual metaphor of public attitudes. However, after class discussions, I realised that it didn’t really serve a purpose — the book would be made and then no-one would really see it. Another flaw was that even during the data scraping exercise in week 5, I found that the Twitter results were not an accurate or very valid representation of Australian attitudes as it only reflects a tiny percentage of the public (those who use social media to voice their outrage/views). It would also be impossible to go through thousands of tweets and categorise them into those that are for or against current refugee policies.

I also presented another proposal that encourages people to consider alternative perspectives, rather than just using bias information to support their attitudes. I explained that I could design a twitterbot that would [attempt to] distinguish attitudes based on wording and hashtags used in tweets (i.e illegal, #stoptheboats, #letthemstay). It would then match these with a tweet that presents the opposite stance on the issue, encouraging a conversation where the two parties gain a bit of perspective from each other… However, realistically speaking, I highly doubt that this concept would result in peaceful, civil conversations, especially considering it is using a social network renown for trolling, abuse and obscene language. Rather than encouraging empathy and understanding, it would most likely create more conflict.

After a few days of anxious despair due to not having a solid concept, I began brainstorming and discussing possibilities with a peer from another class who was researching a different issue. I found this to have been one of the most beneficial brainstorming sessions as I was conversing with someone who didn’t know what I had been researching and focusing on. I realise that I had been stubbornly holding on to this idea of having some sort of metaphoric concept that responded to the big picture of the issue. Rather, I should have tried focusing on a specific area of my research, one in which I could actually have the potential to change. I found it helped to revisited the reflections I made from previous exercises, particularly the notions of changing attitudes in a positive way and encouraging a sense of understanding.

During my brainstorming session, my peer also suggested that rather than just identifying the problem, why not try to mediate it. The problem has already been established and it is well known that many people have conflicting attitudes, so why not try to find a common ground of reconciliation. This notion was also previously considered in one of the 5 possibilities listed in Post 8, suggesting I aim to build long-term relationships between the Australian public and refugees. I found that service design would be the most effective response to this possibility as people will be actively involved in sharing an experience with others and creating lasting emotional connections with them


As the gap between the Australian community and refugees continues to escalate, so do tensions, conflict and negative attitudes towards each other. A lack of understanding and ignorance seems to be driving these people apart, focusing on how vastly different their backgrounds are, rather than embracing them. Thus I propose to design a service/campaign that surrounds the notion of a cultural market/festival. This festival acts as a space for an exchange of personal and cultural art, craft workshops, books, food, music, performance and stories. The Cultural Fusion Festival can be held once a week at various schools, which also alludes to educating everyone about different cultures, values  and backgrounds. Schools are also associated with family orientated events, thus encourages positive and friendly attitudes. Flyers and brochures will be sent to households, local businesses, schools and refugee NGOs to inform them about the event. Posters will also be put up around the community, encouraging people of all race, gender, age and religion to join. The refugee festival ultimately encourages people share their background and embrace the backgrounds of others, thus demonstrating the benefits and enjoyments of multiculturalism.

This proposal responds to my research regarding empathy and how those who are so far separated from other parties, find it difficult to understand and relate with them. I found that it would be impossible to create a universally recognised system that could somehow overcome conflict and bigotry. Thus, I found it would be more constructive to focus on making a large impact on small scale — this then has the potential to expand to a larger market/audience.

My research also reinforced that there is no single solution that could satisfy all clashing attitudes within this issue. Thus, rather than trying to find a ‘solution’, I am attempting to change the attitudes. I have found that emotions are a primary actor for change as they have the ability to influence other attitudes, authority figures and policies/outcomes. Therefore, by  creating a physical space where resettled refugees and the Australian community can enter and engage with each other, they are enabled to really identify with others on a much more emotional level.

Variety of ethnic food stalls.
Different kinds of foreign music.

Post 9 — Brainstorming Process

The ability to collaborate with others has been a central factor in researching the complex social issues that surround asylum seekers and refugees. Thus, during the last group task, it was very insightful to have each member bring their individual knowledge and perspectives to our discussions. It seems as though every meeting, we all have new insights to present as we have been looking at new information, new issues and new actors.

These new findings may also emerge from the notion that complex issues are not stagnant but rather always changing. In ‘Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory‘, Latour suggests that the actors are constantly in the process of (re)assembling, (re)associating and (dis)agreeing. Thus, it is our role as the researcher to trace these actors and their movements.
During this weeks exercises, it was good to exchange these various avenues that we have been researching as it provided a wholesome perspective of the issue at large. In the first map, we focused on my problem regarding ‘attitudes towards refugees’. Despite focusing on individual problems, I found that all group members were able to confidently contribute to this open discourse. As opposed to previous mind maps, we found that this task was much more successful as we were able to quickly and naturally fill the entire page with various intuitive ideas. This was perhapsbecause we focused on a more specific topic as opposed to the larger maps. In previous maps, we found it difficult to start as there was an overload of information which we didn’t know how to organise.
Not only did I find mapping out my problem to be helpful, but I also gained some perspective about other problems surrounding the asylum seeker issue. We created a map that addressed how refugees experience trauma in detention. We explored disturbing experiences that refugees often endure and how this effects themselves, their family and the community. We also looked at who or what is responsible for inflicting this trauma and proposed ideas about how it is/should be handled.

A definite weakness about this process however was that we felt pressured to already have some ideas for Assignment 3. For the last few weeks, we have not yet had individual discussions with tutors and thus found it difficult to transition from the research stage to the responding stage. I also felt a little overwhelmed with the idea that we had to start proposing concepts as there’s still so much that I don’t know about emergent areas.

Post 8 — Brainstorming for possibilities

During the last few weeks of research, I have identified attitudes to be a primary actor for change within this issue. I plan to further investigate how these are formed and how they have the potential to sway other attitudes that exist on an intermediary level. I also want to look into how they have the ability prompt change and influence not only public decisions, but political decisions as well.


Problem Statement:

Over the last decade, Australia has seen an increasing number of refugees arriving by boat with different ethnic backgrounds. This is the tragic and drastic result of war, persecution and corruption in their home countries. With the numbers of refugees increasing, so do tensions between and amongst different stakeholder groups (such as the Australian public, the government, human rights organisations and refugees). Many people have formed strong attitudes about the issue and refuse to look at information that may present an alternative perspective. These irrational attitudes are dangerous and counterproductive as they have the power to influence the masses and stimulate more conflict, rather than contribute to finding viable solutions.

By clarifying my problem statement, I was able to gather all of my thoughts on the issue into a concise brief that I can address in the Task 3. I brought this problem to the attention of my peers and we began dissecting the details and probing for reasons in which they may influence the formation of other attitudes towards asylum seekers. I really valued the exchange of different perspectives and insights from my peers in this task.


During the mapping exercise, my group often attributed emotions as a primary factor that influences attitudes. I considered the context of these emotive words and it seemed as though my peers were implying that attitudes against open border policies are driven by negative emotions, such as fear, discrimination and selfishness, where as those in favour are described with positive emotive words such as tolerance, passionate and generosity. This showed similarities with my twitter data scraping findings — where similar attitudes were presented by other young adults and university-educated people.

Not only did I find mapping out my problem to be helpful, but I also gained some perspective about other problems surrounding the asylum seeker issue. We created a map that addressed how refugees experience trauma in detention. We explored traumatic experiences that refugees often endure and how this effects themselves, their family and the community. We also looked at who or what is responsible for inflicting this trauma and how it is/should be handled.


  1. Build long-term relationships between Australian public and refugees.
    Tensions exist between the Australian public and refugees of different ethnicities because of a lack of cultural understanding between both groups. If mutual acceptance and respect was found and maintained, perhaps there would be less conflicting perspectives.
  2. Encourage people with one-sided attitudes to see the issue from another perspective. Many people already have strong views on this topic and often refuse to acknowledge valid information that may compromise their beliefs. However, if people were exposed to a variety of resources and information, perhaps everyday discourse about asylum seekers would be more rational and valid, rather than fueled by emotion or bigotry.
  3. Understand patterns in changing shifts of attitudes towards asylum seekers.
    Monitor and collect data regarding the changing attitudes towards asylum seekers. This may be difficult to visualise numerically or geographically as it is based on qualitative data, rather quantitative. However, this potential avenue of research would assist in understanding the mediators that drive these changes, and how they can be utilised to endorse positive attitudes towards both the Australian public and refugees, rather than encourage tensions.
  4. Focus on how political orientations affect attitudes.
    My results from the data scraping task suggested that people’s attitudes towards social issues are often swayed by their political values and beliefs. This finding was supported when I was able to draw associations between Twitter bio’s that mentioned/implied a political orientation with the tweets that they posted.
  5. Compare lifestyles and situations to evoke a sense of empathy.
    I believe that the most effective way to encourage people to have a well-rounded understanding and attitude towards the issue is by being able to empathise with those that are involved.

Proposal 1.

My proposal responds to the 2nd possibility listed above which aims to encourage people with one-sided attitudes to see the issue from another perspective. The concept is to design a twitterbot that distinguishes the general attitude a person may have (based on language  of their messages and hashtags) and reply with a tweet from someone with an alternative perspective. As many people are blinded by stubborn attitudes, bigotry and emotion, a twitterbot would force people to look at other facts and perspectives, rather than just dig the head in the sand. From my data scraping research, I also found that many people were passively involved in the debate as they merely retweeted other peoples statements, rather than expressing their own thought. A twitterbot would encourage people to conduct their own research in order to respond and make a valid rebuttal.

This concept could result with people either learning new things and becoming more open minded about the issue or end with them hurling abusive tweets at one another in an attempt to triumph in petty twitter debates. Hopefully, if I am tactful in the design of the twitterbot, it would stimulate further research by the general public, rather than provoke those with opposite views. The last thing I want is to encourage more hostility in an already tense and controversial issue.

Proposal 2 (another concept I am considering).

In a democratic society, I believe that the government has a responsibility to represent the majority of opinions expressed by citizens of that nation. From my Twitter data scraping research, this is not the case in Australia as I found that majority of the tweets that responded to asylum seekers presented negative attitudes towards the government’s current policies and handling of the situation. My proposal focuses on the emergent area of information visualisation to depict the landslide number of tweets that are pro asylum seekers, as opposed to those who are anti asylum seekers. This information would be presented as an official Government document that contains a record of every tweet made by an Australian about asylum seekers.
The twitter data would be typeset and tabulated in a sophisticated manner and presented to Government bodies and policy makers. The contrasting sizes of the bound documents act as a tangible and visual representation of public attitudes (from Twitter) and instantly convey that the majority of Twitter users disagree with current refugee policies.



Latour, B., 2007. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies). 1st Edition. Oxford University Press.

Post 7 — Mapping

Words commonly used in conversations about asylum seekers
Stakeholders map 2

Over the course of this subject, there has been a strong emphasis on the idea of collaboration and knowledge sharing, particularly during class tasks. This week, within our groups, we revisited the stakeholders mind maps created in week 2 and saw it extend into the different avenues that we have been researching individually. We used the week 2 mind map as a foundation to build on, addressing the primary actants who possess the power to mobilise change. These groups included Government, the media, asylum seekers, the Australian public and personal beliefs/values.

We built on these core stakeholders to establish human and non human secondary actors involved in this network but instead act as intermediaries, with a less direct impact. My input focused on the media and information that is/isn’t presented to the public as I have been interested in how attitudes are formed and/or changed.

media_linkThe media is one of the biggest mobilisers for change as they are at the core of this network, providing the public with information (who then vote in a political party who deliver policies to confront an issue). Mainstream media sources have been know to be dominated by media moguls, such as Rupert Murdoch, the late Kerry Packer and Kerry Stokes. However, independent youth media outlets such as Pedestrian and Junkee have seen an increase in popularity amongst Australia’s young adults. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter also play a large role in granting exposure to these smaller news sources, as well as give an individual a platform for them to express their thoughts and opinions. We also looked at online anonymity as it is an interesting example of a non-humanistic actant that influences what a person might write.

Censorship is an conceptual actant that has a great potential to change attitudes and thus, how the issue is handled. As perspectives are formed by the information exposed to us combined with personal beliefs and values, censored information suppress a holistic context, preventing us from fully comprehend the issue, thus skewing our perspectives. Within this group we listed secondary actants, such as echo chambers, photography ban in detention centres, the ‘truth’, Border Force Act, violence, deaths and boat numbers. I found it interesting how different authorities censor information to sway attitudes in different directions. Recently, the Australian Government introduced the Border Force Act, which essentially prevents detention centre staff members from disclosing information about human rights abuses (Bradley, M., 2015) . However, in Sweden, many crimes committed by refugees, such as the stabbing of a 22 year old social worker at a refugee centre, have been concealed (Miller, M., 2016).

From these mind maps, I was also given an insight into the research of my peers. One of the group members had been looking into how Australia and their asylum seeker policies are perceived by other counties. The map illustrates how this issue extends into an international network of relations as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia affect combined efforts and the negotiations of ‘solutions’. International bodies, such as the United Nations are also stakeholders on an intermediary level; acting as an regulator of International Law. Australia has received criticisms from this organisation, as well as from other nations, however, this does not seem to to have a direct influence on the resolving the issue.


We also examined different polemics that have generated from this issue. We mapped the stakeholders involved in these conflicting perspectives and the emotions/attitudes they may have. Our first polemic example exists between the Australian Governments and refugee activists. These may include people such as the Malcom Turnbull, the LNP, Pauline Hanson, Julia Bishop, Peter Dutton and John Howard against human rights lawyers, academics, #LetThemStay protestors, the Greens, asylum seeker resource centres, Muslims, volunteers and resettled refugees.


From identifying individual actors and conflicting perspectives in the polemic maps, it was reinforced that one single solution cannot satisfy the concerns of all the effected stakeholders. However, this task made me consider that perhaps instead of trying to find a ‘solution’, it would be more constructive to understand the emotions and attitudes that emanate from the polemics. These conceptual actants could potentially lead to some interesting metaphoric visualisations of emotive data.


Bradley, M, 2015. Border Force Act: why do we need these laws?. ABC, 16 July 2015.

Miller, M, 2016. Swedish asylum worker Alexandra Mezher stabbed to death at refugee centre. Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2016.


Post 6 — Twitter Data Scraping

The issue of asylum seekers coming to Australia is a highly debatable topic, particularly on social media platforms. Twitter in particular allows people to express their thoughts and opinion in a quick 140 character message. Using the Actor Network Theory to understand the social systems and networks surrounding the topic of asylum seekers, Twitter can also be seen as a non-humanistic actant that connects people all across the world. Human actants can read, reply and write tweets using their laptop or mobile device.

Hashtags are used for keywords/phrases to broadcast and categorise tweets, helping them to appear in Twitter searches. Advanced searches allows you to filter your results by setting specific parameters using keywords, locations, people, places and dates. This information can be exported into table format with the combined use of Google Sheets.

Over the week, I have been collecting Twitter data to show patterns of human actants and their thoughts and behaviours. I experimented with different sets of parameters to reveal more about attitudes towards asylum seekers and how they are formed and swayed. I drew on the words collected from week 4’s class task, where we were to intuitively write down 25 words that resonate with us that are often used by the media and in daily discourse about Australia’s asylum seeker/refugee issue.

Class Task — Words heard in daily discourse regarding the topic of asylum seekers

I began by entering some of these words in a very broad search using the Google Sheets Twitter archive. However, I found that it was difficult to find any underlying patterns as there was an overload of data that was difficult to analyse (over 4,000 tweets). I realised that if I wanted to find data that is relevant to my specific area of interest, I needed to suggest a somewhat broad hypothesis so that I know what patterns/variables/trends I am looking for.

data_scrapeI hypothesised that people from the same regions may have similar attitudes. This vague assumption dictated the keywords that I entered into the Google Sheets Twitter Archive and Twitter’s Advanced Search. The Twitter archive did not allow me to specify the location of the tweets, thus I needed to manually filter through locations within Australia. I was also able to obtain qualitative data from the user descriptions, providing an insight of the underlying reasons or factors that may influence these results. I repeated this process using different keywords and compared and analysed the results. I obviously could not go through all of the results, thus I selected a random sample group of 175 people to analyse which can be seen here [].


Unfiltered results (Tweets from international locations)
Filtered results (Tweets from locations in Australia)
tweet locations
Number of tweets from different locations in Australia (these results were collected from a random sample group of 175 tweets)

From this data scraping research, my hypothesis was not entirely validated as the data showed that the vast majority of people on Twitter have similar attitudes, irregardless of where they are from. Most people tweeting about the issue of asylum seekers in Australia condone the offshore processing policies and detention centres. However, these results only reflect a tiny percentage people on twitter and an even smaller percentage of the Australia public.

In conjunction with tweet locations, I also needed to identify the attitudes/opinions presented in the tweets. I considered how one may frame their statements, focusing on how the word ‘illegal’ is used. By simply changing the linking verb ‘are’ and ‘is’, I was able to collect tweets with very different stances on the issue.

are illegal_01are illegal_02is illegal_02is illegal_01

I tried to understand the background of this sample group, as that would give an insight to why they have these attitudes. From observing the bio descriptions, most people who have tweeted on the subject of asylum seekers are fairly well educated and/or are advocates for social justice.


Summary Points:

  • People from CBD’s (particularly Melbourne) are a lot more vocal about asylum seeker issues on social media than people from regional areas. In saying this, one must consider that capital cities have higher populations than regional areas).
  • Most people who have tweeted on the subject of asylum seekers are fairly well educated and/or are advocates for social justice.
  • Tweets tend to focus on one specific aspect of the issue (though they are restricted to 140 characters).
  • Most twitter users do not have the ability to mobilise change. Rather, they act as intermediaries that retweet provocative posts made by influential mediators.
  • Twitter data scraping is better suited for numeric data, rather than measuring trends in opinions. I found it to be tedious as I had to manually find and organise tweets that came from locations in Australia.

Potential Concept:
A Twitterbot would ideally distinguish peoples attitudes based on how the post has been worded (i.e. ‘is illegal’ and ‘are illegal’) and match the tweets with opposite attitudes. I found that many twitter posts tended to focus on only one aspect of the issue whilst ignoring equally important concerns. This concept could lead to either a mass of heated arguments and hurling of insults, or possibly provide people with a bit of perspective and alternative insights. I would hope the latter would be the predominant outcome and hopefully force people to see the issue in a broader context.



Post 5 — A Matter of Opinion

Since the beginning of this subject, I have been engaging in a number of different class tasks that have provided a deeper insight and understanding of my topic of interest, Asylum seekers and refugees. Last weeks tasks encouraged myself to become more engaged with others to discover how attitudes are swayed and/or formed by people from different demographics. During this research, I conducted an interview with two fellow students who had a basic understanding of asylum seekers and refugees.


I began the interview by asking what the interviewee believed to be legitimate reasons for someone seeking refuge. The response was interesting as they believed that a person may not necessarily be fleeing war or persecution — they could also be escaping economic instability, lack of educational resources, drugs and other severe situations that may occur in more developed countries.

The interview followed by questioning what they perceived to be the most ‘legal’ way of seeking refuge. One responder acknowledged that it is a difficult question as the issue is so complicated. There is a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy involved in claiming for refugee status, and too often, people in desperate situations don’t have the opportunity or time to do so the ‘proper’ way. The second interviewee also added that in many cases, asylum seekers aren’t aware of Australia’s current offshore processing policies — if they were aware, they wouldn’t have come.

The conversation then steered towards how asylum seekers may effect Australia and our economy, lifestyle, jobs, culture, community etc. The respondent answered that Sydney is becoming a really expensive posh area that is not economically diverse. There are new CBDs popping up, such as the inner west and Parramatta where populations and new jobs are increasing. I mentioned an article I read about a 2nd generation immigrant explaining that Australia has so much land and so many resources; he called it the land of plenty. The interviewees replied that indeed Australia has a vast amount of land that is unused, however a lot of it is harsh uninhabitable. However, they added that if we used this land more effectively, we would have a lot more give. It was also mentioned that the reason why refugees may affect the community negatively is because of tension caused by fear. This ‘fear’ seems to make a predictable pattern and is more apparent when large numbers of migrants resettle to form ethnic communities within Australia. I asked if this is a bad thing. The interviewee responded that it definitely is not a bad thing, but rather very beneficial — different races bring new insights, cultural traditions, cuisines and celebrations that we can all enjoy. Multiculturalism is what makes Australia so great.

I then focused on one of my areas of interest, which examines what factors influence attitudes and opinions. The interviewee stated that obviously the media plays a massive role in influencing how the public think by what they show, and interestingly what they do not show. At all of the asylum seeker detention centres, there are strict no photography/filming policies, which makes you wonder what they don’t what people to see. Perhaps if people could see the conditions and treatment of these refugees, then they might be more sympathetic. It was interesting when the interviewee also mentioned that language and discourse plays a vital role in representing refugees. The increasing number of migrants is often seen as potentially dangerous and something to be cautious, particularly when words such as ‘swarm’, ‘epidemic’, ‘influx’ and ‘tide’ are used.

To follow up with this interview, I asked the interviewees to participate in a probing task, where they would collect a weeks worth of data in the context of their everyday social media activities. The probe (which I now realise is probably the same as 95% of everyone else researching asylum seekers/refugees) was to save any social media posts relating to asylum seekers and screenshot the comments that respond to it. Despite the lack of originality of my probe, it focuses my area of interest (which now that I think about it, most other students are probably focusing on this area too) — that is researching how attitudes and opinions are formed and/or swayed.
I found the one of the more interesting and conflicting comments were from a New York Times article, titled ‘After Paris Attacks, Vilifying Refugees’. People had not only commented on the article, but they also responded to other peoples commentary, sparking lengthy and open online debates. The vast majority of the comments were either strongly pro or anti refugee with little room for having a neutral stance. This often resulted in insults being hurled towards people with opposing views.
Similarly, on a youtube video titled ‘The Rise of ISIS and the Refugee Crisis’ by talk host John Oliver, I found the comments to be very intriguing, but also very exhausting to read (image below). Initially they were very insightful and I found myself wanting to join in on the conversation. However, the debate quickly turned into a heated exchange of insults (which was not surprising for Youtube), revealing more about the person behind the obscure username. I continued reading through the comments, though now I wasn’t sure if my motive was for research or because I just found it slightly humorous; that these people were arguing for hours with complete strangers with no possibility of changing each others obstinate views.
Youtube Comments from John Oliver’s video, ‘The Rise of ISIS and the Refugee Crisis’
Informal pieces of text, such as simple comments to a video or news article, are a useful source of research to gather in terms of discovering underlying bias and pre-conceptions. As the exchange between NeulNeul Lee, Arnold and oasis fan continued, more was revealed about their attitudes and why they think that way about refugees. One individuals stance was heavily influenced by their empathy with refugees, and often defended how they are negatively portrayed by the media, politicians and in public discourse. Another commentator was as equally passionate about the issue, however they had a completely conflicting perspective and supported their argument with quotes, facts and statistics that negatively represented asylum seekers.
Another set of results from the probes were inspirational and empathetic stories about refugees. It was interesting to see the Facebook pages/groups that the participant for this task received her material from. The pages that we ‘like’ or follow on social media accounts determines what information we are exposed to and definitely influences our perspective on the topic.

From these tasks, I observed that people seem to be more vocal of their opinions on social media than in reality and daily conversations. I believe this is due to the anonymity of being online as well as having the time to articulate themselves through writing. Online conversations also grants instant access to the internet, which enables them to justify their opinions and quickly rebut.
I feel as though both interview and the probe provided a deeper insight of how attitudes and opinions are formed by people of different demographics. However, there is definitely room for improvement with my interviewing technique — I feel as though I was much too involved and often averted silences with my own personal input.

Post 3



The map shown above depicts a variety of stakeholders in regards to the asylum seeker and refugee issues, specifically in Australia. It shows how different entities vary in their level of influence on how the situation is handled, solved, worsened and also perceived.

The influence of each party varies from high to low;  the media, Government, refugees and the Australian population are the primary influencers whereas smaller groups such as churches, doctors and local communities have less impact on the situation. I found that there are so many aspects to consider when approaching this complex issue. As the map shows, it is not just people and organisations that play an important role in how attitudes form and how the situation is handled, but systems and values too.


  1. Boat Carrying Hundreds of Migrant Capsizes (Anadolu Agency, 2016)
    This photo shows the perilous journey that many asylum seekers face in their search for safety. The boats that many refugees travel on are badly damaged, over crowded and close to sinking. Over the past decade, thousands of asylum seekers travelling by boat have died as many of the boats have capsized, been destroyed by rough waters or sank before naval rescue boats were able to intercept them. The photograph indirectly suggests the desperate situation they must be in as there is a high chance of them or a loved one drowning in the middle of the ocean, however, they still consider this is the more favourable option for finding refuge.
  2. Nauru Riots (ABC, 2011)
    This photograph depicts the Nauru detention centre aflame and in chaos; the result from enraged detainees rioting and protesting against their imprisonment behind barbed wire fencing. It is interesting that the photograph even exists as no cameras are allowed on the premises, yet there is no sign of authorities to enforce these strict regulations or to control the situation. The photograph reflects many of the issues presented in the previously posted text sources. Obviously the first implication is a broken system, where prisoners are making a stand against the terrible conditions and treatment within the camps. This notion is heard in echoed in Jacinda Woodhead’s article ‘We, A Nation of Torturers’, condemning the current offshore processing policies. In contrast, the mayhem and destruction created from the rioters is highlighted in Piers Akerman’s article, ‘Left’s Refugee Wails are a Boatload of Lies’, where he blames the increase of violence and crime in European countries with the increase of refugees.
  3.  Anti-Refugee Protestors (ABC, 2016)
    As opposed to the #LetThemStay Protests in Australia, there have also been several rallies held in Australia who oppose the idea of allowing asylum seekers to be processed in the country. This photo focuses on two particular people from the protests, creating a negative representation of those who are against open border policies. The majority of the protesters, who aren’t wearing Islamic religious attire in an offensive manner, are not in view. The xenophobic pair seem to believe they are speaking on behalf of the nation as they claim “Australia says no” and wear the national flag around their shoulders, as though they are defenders of the country.
  4.  Man dies on Manus Island (Dan Paled, 2014)
    This photo depicts a candlelight vigil held for Reza Barati, an Iranian asylum seeker  who lost his life during the Manus Island riots. The memorial suggests that many Australians do have a great level of empathy for those who have suffered in incarceration. The photo does not present information regarding who killed him nor the details were regarding his death. However, much like Woodhead’s article in Post 1 (‘We, A Nation of Torturers’), the memorial signs do imply that the system and current Government policies are to blame as they call for the detention centres be closed down.
  1. Propaganda in War-torn Pakistan (Unknown, 2010)
    This graphic image depicts the deadly situations that many asylum seekers are fleeing from. Blood stains and bodies are seen in the foreground after a car bomb was detonated. In the background, the viewer can see propaganda signs that ironically warns people about the dangers of seeking asylum in Australia via boat. This presents the idea that Western politicians dismiss the extreme dangers that exist in war-torn countries and naively or cruelly believe that nothing could be worse than being smuggled into Australia by a broken-down boat, when in reality, they face bomb threats on a daily basis if they do not leave.
  2.  Child’s drawing in Detention (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014)
    This drawing shows how young children that are seeking asylum with their families are not exempt from refugee processing policies and are locked up like prisoners. They are detained for an indefinite period of time where many suffer mental and physical health issues. The drawing shows a little girl feeling isolated and scared. It provokes an emotional response from the viewer as it is a child’s desperate plea to unlock her from the prison she is held in.
  3. Government propaganda discourages refugees coming to Australia (Lauren Gianoli, 2014)
    In ‘Millions Spent on Anti-Refugee Propaganda’ , a previously mentioned article published in GreenLeft Weekly, Zebedee Parkes heavily criticises the Liberal Government for spending millions on ‘anti-refugee’ propaganda. However, the photograph here shows how both Liberal and Labour are responsible for discouraging asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat. This image shows a full-page newspaper advertisement from Labour’s asylum seeker campaign in 2013, telling asylum seekers that “the law’s changed, please don’t come by boat because you’ll get resettled to Papua New Guinea,” as Chris Bowen explained to Sky News.
  4. Toddler’s body washed up onto Turkish beach (Nilufer Demir, 2015)
    The photograph shows a tiny lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. It reveals only one out of the thousands of deaths that have occurred at sea as millions seek asylum via boat. Within hours of taking the photo, it had gone viral along with the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore). This little boys family obviously took the risk of fleeing their war-torn country because they thought it would be the safest option, and hoped for a new life that promised safety and security. Unfortunately their journey and lives ended too soon when their boat was destroyed by rough waters.
  5. Migrants refused entry to Hungary (Armend Nimani, 2015)
    This photograph shows migrants reacting aggressively when confronted by Hungarian police who were ordered to seal the borders from human traffickers travelling through Serbia. They had just broken through Hungary’s newly built razor wire fence at the Southern border and began rioting, throwing rocks, sticks and bottles, when they were stopped by police. Police responded by firing tear gas and water canons, forcing the crowd back into Serbia. The photo shows the anguish and anger in the faces of the refugees, as they had been traveling for days, only to be locked out of a country that they only intended to pass through.
  6. Refugees sew lips in protest of Australia’s offshore processing policies (The Nation, 2014)
    This photo shows how many asylum seekers have been protesting against Australia’s offshore processing policies, lengthy detentions, poor conditions and the prospect of resettling in Papua New Guinea. Hundreds have committed acts of self-harm such as sewing their lips together, swallowing razor blades and detergent and going on hunger strikes. Tension has escalated within the camps, with one asylum seeker claiming “we didn’t come to PNG, we didn’t enter PNG soil and we haven’t done anything in this country, so we shouldn’t be jailed in this country” (SBS, 2015). Photos like this are a desperate plea for attention from the public and media. The subject’s devastated expression and mutilated face is also a reflection of their experience in detention camps, as well as their mental and physical state. The photo certainly evokes concerns regarding how asylum seekers are treated and how this affects their mental health.



  1. Anadolu Agency, 2016, Horrifying Moment a Boat Carrying Hundreds of Migrants Capsized in the Middle of the Ocean, [online].
  2. ABC, 2011, There were violent protests and fires at Sydney’s Villawood detention cention in April this year, [online].
  3. ABC News, 2016, Hundreds of anti-Islam demonstrators rallied in Martin Place as pat of a national day protests, [online].
  4. Dan Paled, 2014, Reza Barati died during a riot at the Manus Island detention centre in February, [online].
  5. Australian Government’s deterrence campaign ad seen in background of suicide attack, 2010, [online].
  6. Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014, A drawing by an asylum seeker child from the Christmas Island detention centre, [online].×2-940×627.jpg
  7. Lauren Gianoli, 2014, Rudd Government’s national print advertisements in 2013, [online].
  8. Nilufer Demir, 2015, A young Syrian boy lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey, [online]
  9. Armend Nimani, 2015, Serbia Hungary Europe Migrants, [online].
  10. The Nation, 2014, Asylum Seekers sew lips in Australian protest, [online].

SBS, 2015, A hunger strike and self-harm have occurred at Manus Island detention centre, 15.01.2015

Post 4 — Eat and Meet #RefugeeChallenge

Eat and Meet — designed by Jennifer Kinnunen, Marie Legleye, Camille Marshall, Elias Sougrati

During these last few weeks, I have been researching how and why attitudes are generated from various people regarding the issue of asylum seekers. Upon my research, I found that a lack of cultural understanding from both host nations and refugees is a primary factor that augments hostility and negative attitudes towards each other. Earlier this year, a group of students from architectural, interior design and urban planning backgrounds designed a project proposal called Eat and Meet for the What Can Design Do Refugee Challenge 2016.  This competition focuses on creative thinking the areas of service, interaction and integration. The aim was to devise an innovative way to build relations between refugees and local European communities and transform negative misconceptions and attitudes.

The Eat and Meet proposal creates a social platform for food events, where cultures and experiences can be shared between both refugees and EU residents. Commenting on a BBC survey that showed attitudes hardening towards Middle Eastern refugees, Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle said “it is clear that many people in Britain have been deeply moved by the deadly refugee crisis unfolding on Europe’s doorstep” (as cited in BBC, 2016). The young designers of the Eat and Meet transportable kitchen suggest that this negative reaction towards the increasing numbers of refugees is motivated by fear. “Fear is often related to ignorance and lack of interaction, [thus] we intend to use food to bring people together, foster relationships and warm hearts” the designers explained. They aim to transform current misconceptions and fears regarding refugee migration into knowledge an appreciation.

WDCD_CH_Shortlist_exhibition N_DEF.indd
Eat and Meet concept visualisation (Kinnunen, J., Legleye, M., Marshall, C., Sougrati, E., 2016)

The Eat and Meet proposal involves setting up food trucks in mobile community spaces where refugees are able to cook and sell food from their cultures. All proceeds go towards the workers as well as integration projects, such as language and cross cultural courses. The design project will initially require donations from individuals, local NGOs and businesses to fund the renovation of a city bus into an iconic Eat and Meet vehicle. Each week a flyer will be distributed featuring one of the refugees own recipes in conjunction with a story about the dish. Story telling is an effective way to connect with the audience, as they can see how food played an important role within their family — something the audience can surely relate to.

The flyer will be designed and written by participating refugees with the assistance of volunteers. This facilitates an opportunity for refugees to learn the local language as well as enhance their skills in digital communications, marketing and branding. At the end of the Eat and Meet project, a recipe book will be made from a collection of the weekly recipes. In addition to the accomplishment of running a successful business, the daily practice of the local language and talking to the community creates lasting relationships with the host nation. It also contributes to the long-term integration process of asylum seekers and fosters trust and cultural acceptance.

what-design-can-do-challenge-25-shortlisted-projects-refugee_dezeen_-eat-meet-1568_0.jpg (1568×1121) Google Chrome, Today at 12.11.24 am
Visualisation of the Eat and Meet transportable kitchen (Kinnunen, J., Legleye, M., Marshall, C., Sougrati, E., 2016)

Social media will also play a large role in spreading awareness of the design proposal. Through online communities, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the program will gain more exposure and encourage a wider audience of refugees, locals and NGOs to join.

Although the Eat and Meet has not yet been implemented of trialled, it shows great potential for becoming a large scale project that can effectively build lasting relations between refugees and residents of the EU. As food is always a great catalyst for cultural exchange and meeting new people, I thought this design example was an innovative way of encouraging acceptance and integration between two very tense and divided groups.

BBC, 2016. Attitudes harden towards refugees from Syria and Libya, BBC poll suggests, 4 February 2016
Jennifer Kinnunen, 2016. Eat&Meet #RefugeeChallenge. 7 June 2016. <>
Kinnunen, J., Legleye, M., Marshall, C., Sougrati, E., 2016, Eat and Meet Project Poster .
Kinnunen, J., Legleye, M., Marshall, C., Sougrati, E., 2016, Visualisation of the Eat and Meet transportable kitchen
<>  .
What Design Can Do. 2016. WINNER 3: EAT & MEET – Refugee Challenge. <>

Post 2

‘Shame on you’: The language, practice and consequences of shame and shaming in asylum seeker advocacy

Danielle Every is a social psychologist and researcher at the Central Queensland University, focusing in the areas of social change, social inclusion and social justice. She is also the co-director of the People, Place and Migration Unit and specialises in the research of the language of advocacy and anti-racism. In this article, she focuses the discourse of shaming, expressed through either contempt and disgust, or through a comparison of privilege and oppression.
          The purpose of Every’s article was to shift negative public opinions to create better outcomes for asylum seekers. However, I found that her constant disassociation from those with different views (referring to them as the ‘opposition’), ultimately diminished the complexities of the issue to a simple for or against stance, fueling more hostility between conflicting arguments. Every explains that shaming creates two distinct groups: ‘racists’ (shamers) and ‘anti-racists’ (the shamed). In her one of he many previous articles on asylum seekers, she suggests that the opposition believe in ‘white solidarity’ and that asylum seekers are undermining the established culture and values (Every & Augoustinos, 2007). This prior collaborative research conducted with Ausoustinos
          Her support for asylum seekers and their rights is not surprising as she has previously researched occupational health and safety for migrant workers in aged care and the social impacts of immigration. Thus, her career and beliefs obviously stem from her ability to empathise with vulnerable ethnic groups.

Australian attitudes towards asylum seekers: Roles of dehumanisation and social dominance theory
Justin Trounson is a Doctorate candidate and researcher at Swissburne University of Technology. In his academic paper, Australian attitudes towards asylum seekers: Roles of dehumanisation and social dominance theory, his main purpose is to effectively prove his hypothesis as well as gain an understanding of the psychological variables that influence attitudes towards asylum seekers, which may contribute to better policy decisions. This may seem like a fairly neutral stance on the topic, however his selection of references, which form the basis of his article, suggests an additional motive: encouraging readers to challenge common attitudes that disseminate in a hierarchical society.
          His article is informative and is supported by research from various academic sources. Many of these references however are not completely impartial. He often refers to the Social Dominance Theory (SDT; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) — which is influenced by Marxist and socio-biological ideas — to hypothesise that “Australians high in Social Dominance Orientation (STO) are more likely than those low in SDO to dehumanise asylum seekers”. Trounson perhaps also has a political agenda as he includes that “higher SDO scores were associated with negative attitudes towards asylum-seeker-friendly policies”, suggesting that people at the top of the social hierarchy are more likely to dehumanise asylum seekers and criticise policies that promote rights for such groups.
          Trounson also makes reference to many of Jeffery Pfeiffer’s texts, a professor at Swinburne University, whose research has had a definite influence on Trounson’s article. When working in America, Pfeifer was often involved in many capital and non-capital court cases and has written several articles on racial bias — a focal point within Trounson’s article.
          As a psychology student and researcher, it is not surprising that Trounson would have a genuine curiosity about what psychological factors that influence attitudes and preconceptions towards asylum seekers. Trouson has previously written academic papers regarding the wellbeing of populations within a detainment centre (i.e. officers and prisoners), however, this paper focuses on the mindset of Australian populations outside of the detainment centres (i.e. government, working class, upper class). He acknowledges that there is already a large body of literature written on the development of negative host nation attitudes towards immigrant groups, however, there is a lacking of research regarding the nature of this relationship.


Every, D., 2013. ‘Shame on you’: The language, practice and consequences of shame and shaming in asylum seeker advocacy. Discourse & Society,24(6), pp.667-686.
Every, D. and Augoustinos, M., 2007. Constructions of racism in the Australian parliamentary debates on asylum seekers. Discourse & Society,18(4), pp.411-436.
Trounson, J.S., Critchley, C. & Pfeifer, J.E. 2015, Australian attitudes towards asylum seekers: Roles of dehumanisation and social dominance theory, Social Behavior and Personality, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 1641-1655.

Post 1

We, A Nation of Torturers

‘We, A Nation of Torturers’ is a polemic by Jacinda Woodhead for Overland, an Australian literary and culture magazine. Overland aims to be a platform of social justice, thus many articles are written by or in support of marginalised individuals and communities, which already suggests Woodhead’s pro-attitude towards asylum seekers. Woodhead has also written in the Analysis and Opinion section for the ABC and the Guardian, which are both considered to have a centre-left to left-wing orientation. Despite presenting many strong arguments in her articles, I find that many are generated by personal and political ideologies, rather than solid evidence—however, that is not to say that this article isn’t valid.
          In her article, Woodhead compares the Pacific Solution to Guantanamo Bay and calls it a ‘form of torture’. She encourages Australians to change their attitude towards refugees, calling ‘bullshit’ to many of the media fuelled scare campaigns that claim there would be “millions of Syrians sitting in Indonesia, waiting to get into Australia” without the liberal introduced Pacific Solution. Woodhead also highlights Australia’s “long history of ugly racism” and despite writing for what many consider a left-wing magazine, she reminds readers of Labor’s shameful White Australia policy, reflecting a more objective stance on the issue.
          In 2013 Woodhead wrote an article on the same topic, focusing on how the Australian government continuously undermined the dangers of living in Sri Lanka (where a large percentage of Asylum Seekers are fleeing). Woodhead suggests that under the Sri Lankan government, crimes against humanity are committed against anyone who displayed freedom of expression, however Foreign Minister Bob Carr states that it is now ‘safe’ for asylum seekers to return to.
          I would consider this article to be opinion based and biased. It has been swayed by the authors empathy and disgust towards the Government and society for their attitudes towards asylum seekers and how they are ‘tortured’ and ‘punished for leaving war zones’.

Left’s Refugee Wails Are A Boatload Of Lies

Like Woodhead, Piers Akerman has also recently written a very heated article on the topic of Asylum Seekers, however from a totally different stance on the issue. Akerman writes with a much more conservative perspective, which may be expected as it appears in The Daily Telegraph — a newspaper owned by right wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
          Akerman writes to the Australian public, criticising ‘self-appointed moral guardians’ (church groups and priests) who support the entry of ‘people-smuggler clients’, but ‘let taxpayers bear the cost’ of processing them. This perspective not surprising as the economy and border protection are usually high priorities for conservatives.


Newcastle Wesley Uniting Church offering sanctuary to asylum seekers (Farguhar, L., 2016)

          Akerman condemns the ABC, claiming that they “push their own social engineering agenda… [by promoting] the left-wing narrative of Labor being the party of sympathy, empathy and uber-compassion”. Interestingly, the journalist had previously worked for the ABC but was dismissed, perhaps resulting in disgruntled relations. Akerman has frequently written with negative views about asylum seekers. He often includes statistics to support his comments, such as associating the 11 % increase of reported rapes in Sweden with their larger intake of asylum seekers than any other EU countries (Akerman, P., 2015), however he does not take into account other variables that could contribute to these statistics.
          As a conservative columnist, Akerman often criticises left-wing statements and policies. He writes “they would rather choke than admit that Kevin Rudd, one of Labor’s many false messiahs, campaigned on a platform of stopping the boats, only to break that promise, along with almost every other of importance”, whilst praising the Howard government of stemming the tide of boat arrivals, suggesting his strong siding with the right.

Millions Spent on Anti-Refugee Propaganda

Zebedee Parkes is is an Australian photojournalist and activist, who frequently writes for Green Left Weekly, a socialist newspaper that claims to “present the views excluded by the big business media” (Green Left Weekly, 2016). The newspaper he writes for immediately establishes that the author is swayed by political ideologies, making it difficult to distinguish between subjective and rational arguments.
          Parkes writes about a Government funded ‘telemovie’ aimed at convincing asylum seekers not to come to Australia. As an activist and film maker, Parkes not only criticises the immorality of the film, but also writes about the outrage coming from the film and arts community. He reminds the readers (presumably who are also young, progressive socialists) about the $51.5 million cuts to Screen Australia and further $100 million proposed cuts to the Australia Council of the Arts, yet the Government is still willing to fund this $6 million ‘anti-refugee propaganda’. Parkes involvement and interest in film media also prompts him to endorse a number of alternative refugee films that he perceives to be truthful and worth watching.

#LetThemStay Protests, Sydney, (Parkes, Z., 2016)

          Having attended and documented a number of anti-racist protests, it is obvious that Parkes strongly believes in freedom of speech. Therefore, his anger at the Government is not surprising when he accuses them of “attempting to silence the voices of the asylum seekers”; allegedly threatening and intimidating detainees who have been caught filming and photographing the Nauru detention centre riots.
          I found Parkes perspective to be rather common amongst young people rather than an older demographic, as they are more likely to associate with film, arts and progressive ideologies.  

Why Australia Hates Asylum Seekers

Melbourne author, Christos Tsiolkas, often writes for the Monthly Magazine, an Australian magazine of politics, society and the arts. The Monthly is seen to have a left wing bias, but the magazine considers itself to be more ‘progressive’. Thus, it is not surprising Tsiolkas’ essay is featured in it, criticising conservative and negative attitudes towards asylum seekers.
          In his essay, Tsiolkas distinguishes the two main communities he believes exist in Australia; the cosmopolitan, educated people who understand the rights of asylum seekers contrasting to the “parochial anxious communities of the urban fringes and the bush”. He considers himself associated with the former group, saying “we are well-travelled and not suspicious of multiculturalism” as opposed to the latter group. I find this to be a massive generalisation, influenced by retrospective anecdotes from friends, family and colleagues who have experienced racial discrimination in regional communities. Having immigrated from Greece to regional Victoria, his parents told him “Australians are racist, they are racist and they are amorphoté ”(uneducated and lack a decent code of behaviour). This attitude is expressed throughout the essay as well as his novels The Slap and Barracuda.
          Tsiolkas writes passionately about groups trying to fight the demonisation of asylum seekers. But despite many organisations that exist to help asylum seekers, he only ever pays homage to one, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), founded by his friend, Karapanagiotidis. Perhaps a focus on the ASRC is to be expected as Tsiolkas is actually an ambassador for that organisation.
          He explains the adversities that ASRC has overcome, however he feels like they are fighting a losing battle as they are not able to change people’s attitudes. Tsiolkas admits to often avoiding talking about asylum seekers with friends and family, shutting off “another bout of vitriol on the topic”. Though this suggests that he himself has his own prejudice and preconceptions about the general public; that they are ignorant and heartless towards asylum seekers. This is definitely implied through the hostile title.

Mid-East Aflame Whilst West Fiddles

Larry Pickering is an Australian political cartoonist who also writes for his own controversial news site, the Pickering Post. Despite claiming to have no affiliation with any political party of group, he is known to have strong views against the left-wing political parties, believing “many redundant journalists have been financially supported by unions and the ALP in order to drag public opinion further left” (Pickering Post Mission Statement, 2016). Pickering retired from political cartooning in 1981, but was motivated to pick up his pencils again in 2011, when Julia Gillard was elected Prime Minister, concerned that the news was being skewed and suppressed. This motive is reflective in the article as he discredits her competence, reminding readers how “50,000 ‘asylum seekers entered Australia illegally by boat, with 30,000 allowed entry, unprocessed and on E-bridging visas, during the Gillard reign”.

Cartoon depicts Julia Gillard leading People Smugglers Convention (Pickering, L., 2013)

          In his article ‘Mid-East Aflame Whilst West Fiddles’, Larry Pickering also writes about other inept political leaders (most of whom have a left orientation) who remain in a state of denial regarding Islamic extremists pouring into Western nations, masquerading as refugees. Despite depicting people smugglers as deceitful, corrupt criminals, he still uses a smugglers claim as fact, quoting that they have already delivered “over 4000 ISIS operatives into Europe”.
          Pickering’s article make numerous associations with people smuggling and terrorists and supports these claims with a number of statistics. However, one must consider the validity of this information as he fails to reference any academic research or statistics. He does raise some strong points, however it is unclear whether they are influenced by rational thought or strong political prejudice.


I believe the issue is extremely complicated and many facets need to be considered. I can understand how many of the authors perspectives are generated as this is a massive humanitarian crisis and deserves much more attention from developed nations as it affects us too. There is no doubt that they are fleeing severe and life-threatening conditions and refugee camps in neighbouring countries do not offer any sense of security and food, water and medical resources are often limited. Thus, we must also consider those who don’t have the money to pay a people smuggler; those who have applied for refugee status and have spent years in these derelict camps, waiting for their claims to be processed. If all asylum seekers are allowed to stay in Australia (as many protestors call for), then do all refugees applying to stay in Australia get accepted? I believe that irrespective of what Government is in power, Australia needs to find a viable, yet humane alternative that considers refugees (in detention as well as those still in camps) as well as national security… if that is even possible.


Akerman, P., 2016, Left’s Refugee Wails Are A Boatload Of Lies, The Daily Telegraph, 7, February 2016

Parkes, Z., 2016. Millions Spent On Anti-Refugee Propaganda. Green Left Weekly, 2 April 2016.

Pickering, L, 2015, Mid-East Aflame Whilst West Fiddles, The Pickering Post, 5, February 2015

Tsiolkas, C, 2013, Why Australia Hates Asylum Seekers, The Monthly, September 2013

Woodhead, J., 2016, We, A Nation of Torturers, Overland, 06.05.2016, online magazine.

Woodhead, J., 2013, Writers and Repression in Sri Lanka, Overland, 07.06.2013, online magazine.


Farguhar, L., 2016, Newcastle Wesley Uniting Church offering sanctuary to asylum seekers

Parkes, Z., 2016, #LetThemStay Protests, Sydney
Pickering, L., 2013, Cartoon depicts Julia Gillard leading People Smugglers Convention