Post 10 – Reflection and Proposition

From last week I narrowed my proposal to the idea focusing on black out poetry. I was happy to go along with this idea as it was the one I was most intrigued by. However peer to peer critiquing and tutor feedback revealed areas I could further explore and strengths I could further enhance. The critique I received was as follows:

  • Questioning what written content I would be exploring. Would it be any articles, poetry, refugee stories or legal documents and legislations?
  • How does it target the appropriate audience of 18-24 year olds?
  • Consider the location in more detail. Where would the billboards be placed? Somewhere people can interact for longer?
  • What are the touch points or he user journey fi they are led to an online platform? Or does the intervention end at the public site?

This feedback has been really important in developing my proposal. Some of them were questions that came up when self critiquing but things I may have overlooked.

In additon to this I’ve been doing research into both black out poetry and the idea of generative poetry. I came across a few websites I found interesting but two in particular stood out, Google poetics and Poetweet. I’ve been trying to look into how I can create more nuanced poems or insightful poetry and its been quite difficult. But I feel like the research has really helped me articulate my thoughts better. And it’s also been fun creating poems with public twitter feeds of Politicians.

So this brings me to my design proposal so far.

Design Proposal

Project: TBC – ‘For those who have come across the seas, We’ve boundless plains to share’

Practice: Campaign / Service Design

Issue: The over saturation of articles and opinions in the media often leads to the inverse effect where a lot of younger Australians, aged 18-24 ignore the information they are being bombarded with. Sometime they do consume it but feel a sense of helplessness towards enacting change. This public campaign seeks to promote awareness towards the issue but also make them aware that there are multiple perspectives towards the problem at hand.

Possible Change: The design will convey the wide discourse around the issue allowing people to discern for themselves what’s happening. It’s not about telling them what’s right or wrong but making them more aware of how the consume information. Furthermore by conveying this through poetry it will intrigue the viewer and also establish a sense of curiosity and perhaps even empathy.

Design Action to Support Change:

The blackout of poetry can be used in two ways:

1. is to use poetry to highlight certain points

2. is to black out words to create the visual metaphor of a maze- the idea of a maze to Australia but one that highlights the refugees journey.

– Drawing on headlines from articles
– Drawing on quotes from politicians
– Drawing on quotes from refugees’
– Inviting public figures and writers to create their own poems

Create poetry with these and impose them on top of an article relating to that topic.

These fill form a series of interactive billboards. they will be timed in terms of blacking out and revealing text but will also give the user the possibility to read it if they wish to.

mute/unmute button

There will be another touch point, where uses can print off the piece of poetry or submit your own piece of poetry to an online archive. It will give you an article to work with and you will use that to create your own piece. This gives the user a place to express their thoughts, a sense of autonomy over what they’ve consumed.


Post 9 – Brainstorming in a spoken sense

Rekha Dhanaram

Our group brainstorming session wasn’t as productive as it could’ve been. I think this a result of many factors. The work ‘mind map’ seemed to have become a trigger word and instead of being excited to delve into our problem spaces we felt less enthused. And perhaps the fact that we chose to be seated around a single table in the corner with no real space for our butchers paper and bags put us off as well. However these factors were more accentuated due to my personal reflection of my progress in the subject prior to that class. I felt quite worried cause I hadn’t developed a focus, an area I really wanted to explore and this indadvertedly made me feel overwhelmed. However looking back whilst these weaknesses were present, I feel that by the end of the lesson I had gained something, even if it weren’t an actual brainstorm.

Instead throughout the course of the lesson we did discuss around the questions we were provided. As we were trying to discern our problem statements it was interesting to see what areas people found interesting in this topic which provided further revelations. One of the most valuable insight I took away from this exercise was how I can focus on a niche area and still help the bigger problem at hand. As we discussed the issue it became apparent that each of us were interested in different areas such as refugee experiences, media representation and the international community. And personally I found myself talking a lot about censorship, refugee rights and experiences. Thus when looking back it became obvious to me that whilst I thought I had no focus area, I had somehow narrowed my focus without knowing and became more well versed in one area.

At the conclusion of this class, whilst I didn’t have a brainstorm, I had answered all the problem statement questions and began to develop a statement as well. Whilst it didn’t seem like a lot at the time, the discussion and questions provided the framework for my proposal. In addition when I got home, I decided to brainstorm on my own to help articulate the conversation and thoughts of that day.




Post 8 – The problem space and possible design responses

Rekha Dhanaram

Continually throughout this subject I’ve tried to embrace the idea of ‘trusting the process’. However at times it’s quite hard to understand whether you’ve explored the issue in detail or too broadly. This is why I found this week’s task particularly useful. I’ve been constantly trying to figure out my focus and have been finding it hard with the mapping exercises. Whilst I’ve tried to ‘trust the process’ I’ve been stuck between the state of gaining more knowledge but losing a clear objective. Hence defining the problem space and working on individual responses in a group setting was very valuable.

Defining the problem statement

Who does the problem effect? Be specific.

The problem affects anyone in the countries with a situational context that forces individuals to flee and furthermore the countries they flee too. Between these two juxtaposing contexts the stakeholders are the asylum seekers and refugees, the government and the public to give a very brief outline. However the issue is not confined to these nations as it affects the international context as it is a problem pertaining to very core human needs, something international binding bodies continuously seek to define and act on.

What are the boundaries of the problem?

Some of the boundaries around this problem can be categorised as structural on an institutional level. This includes:
– Policy, legislation and motivation through the government
– International obligations through binding agreements on the UN Refugee Convention
– International agreements with other countries, particularly concerning offshore processing

Additionally there are boundaries presented by a lack of understanding. These include:
– Media representation of Refugees
– Perception of Refugees
– Censorship

Listing this raised this question on why there are boundaries. Could this be changed? or will there always be boundaries? Or is it the removal of boundaries that drive our desire for change?

When does the problem occur?

Simply put the problem occurs when there is a threat in a country that prevents people from having a good quality of life. However the refugee and asylum seeker journey is a long one, hence various problems occur at different stages. Is the threat forcing them to flee where the problem starts or is it the denial of entering another country where the problem starts?

Why is this important?

At the core this issue concerns the life of humans and their ability to satisfy innate needs. Hence it’s important as it concerns a matter of ethics around humanity. However it is also important as it affects a large number of people from the asylum seeker and refugee community, to the local community to the international community. Furthermore this problem is one that has happened in the past and is very likely to happen in the future if not for the same reason, for others. Thus dealing with it now is a direct influencer of how we would go about in the future. As such more needs to be done to address this issue.

What would happen if the problem is solved?

This question has a lot of scope for answers from eradicating offshore detention to becoming a more informed and welcoming community to ensuring government voting and personal motivations don’t affect policy making. However all these potential solutions focus on one aspect.

Is it too much to ask for a bigger solution?

Eradicating the threat to people’s quality of life that initially forces them to seek asylum is another problem space of its own. Whilst it deals with asylum seekers and refugees it is in a way detached as the threat is different for every instance. Rather than focusing on the origins of the threat if we looked at the issue of displacement and answering the desire of seeking a good quality of life in a new setting we are presented with another big problem. In regards to this, whilst it may be quite far fetched, the idea of borders being removed could present and ideal solution. Utilising the research methodology of ‘heaven and hell’, could ‘hell’ be the present situation and ‘heaven’ be this idea of no borders, meaning no laws prohibiting entry, no perceptions that view others as outsiders?

Problem statement

The previous set of questions really helped articulate my thoughts. However I found it difficult to summarise the problem in one line. Rather my problem statement is made of multiple facets that I found integral to conveying my understanding.

My problem statement(s)

  • Representation of Refugees- The refugee story remains largely hidden and untold.
  • The Refugee experience -in the stages of fleeing (distress and poor conditions), processing (mental and physical health) and resettling (the “acculturation gap” (Buki, Ma, Strom, & Strom, 2003))
  • Individuals are disengaged with the issue either willingly or unwillingly.
  • Navigating through information provided becomes difficult as there are underlying motivations, bias and information we are unaware of.
  • The language around refugees and asylum seekers conveys the inherent bias and lack of education.

Proposal possibilities:

With 18-24 year olds as my target audience I found it useful to define key words that would describe the aim of my design intervention. 

Engage in an interesting way. Challenge perceptions. Enable conversation. Make change accessible.

These key words and phrases were drawn from how I wish to respond to the aforementioned problem statements. They also provide a framework against which I can continuously reflect on my design.

I know that my problem statements are quite broad in tackling the issue however I felt I needed to acknowledge all the insights I found important. Yet when coming up with my design proposal I found it more appropriate to focus on one area in depth. As such I came up with the following ideas as possible proposals.

Exploring censorship

In response to the Border Force Act , I want to create an intervention that highlights the effects of censorship. Due to the increased interconnectedness of people through social media and digital platforms, we find ourselves over saturated with news. My primary research earlier on in this subject revealed how the 18-24 year old age group deals with this over saturation. Feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed can often result in them avoiding the news (avoid clicking on links). Conversely the saturation can also see them consume a lot of information while not being sure on how to process and navigate through this space.

Alongside these findings I became interested in the creative form of blackout poetry. Blackout poetry is the alteration of every day text through ‘blacking out’ certain words and highlighting others to create a poem. The end result is often devoid of the original text and can result in interesting compositions. Drawing on this, I liked the idea of exploring black out poetry in two discourses of media and refugees. It would be a tool to highlight an opposite narrative.

I would like this to be an interactive design. As such, I propose that it would be incorporated in a public setting. I’ve been looking into public means of communication and think that this would work well in a bill board or some form of large screen interaction. People would be able to interact with the blackout poetry to reveal the original article and various poems (more so dialogues of refugees) and could even perhaps submit their own attempt.

Looking at public opinions as a means of receiving news

Exploring data scraping the subject revealed the number of people who voice their opinions on this issue through digital media. It’s quite interesting to see how a sense of autonomy has driven the idea of expressing your views. Whilst the effectiveness of this is subject to debate, I want to highlight that as simple as it may be in this day and age to convey your thoughts, there is a responsibility that comes with it.

Furthermore through personal experiences and once again referring back to my primary research, I find that as much as we are saturated by news, we are saturated by people’s opinion ten fold to this. Thus the question becomes, do people’s opinions have as much weight as the news?

I find that the debate that comes in response to a news really reveals the thoughts of the public, how they process the information and can convey more information to others with a far wider reach. To highlight this I propose a design intervention which works like the mx Overheard section. I want to create an Overheard section for this issue with a collation of people’s online comments and thoughts. it would be interesting to compare this to the articles that prompted their thoughts. I imagine it as a a newspaper spread with the public news on one side and the media news on the other. I do understand that there is a vast array of views to collate and do realise that i need to further work out the logistic and medium for this proposal.

Exploring borders and the physical refugee journey

Drawing on the heaven and hell scenario that arose in our group discussion, I was really interested in the idea of borders and the refugee journey. I believe that conveying the refugee story will build a sense of empathy and understanding amongst the broader public. However I wanted to explore a way to integrate this within a public setting in a seamless way. As such I’ve been looking at way finding as a means of interaction. 

One idea I came up with was the possibility of using interactive street signs to challenge perceptions and convey the refugee journey. Either as a separate installation or one incorporated with existing street signs that mark the refugees distance away from home. This could be a single prompt or could be a touch point for people to learn more about refugees.

I definitely need to consider more details for this project including the information it will convey, further points of contact and the duration of the design.



Post 7 – Issue Mapping

Rekha Dhanaram

The tool of mapping is one that has been emphasised throughout this subject. This weeks co creating and controversy maps definitely probed us to look deeper into the issue. Whilst I unfortunately missed out on the collaborative issue mapping exercise and the valuable component of discussion, I still attempted the task on my own.

I started by reflecting on an earlier word mapping exercise we did in large groups. The list reflects around 200 words used in conversations around asylum seekers and refugees. Creating the list was tedious but it was really interesting to see the jargon-like picture around this topic. Further rearranging these words in various scales from positive to negative, emotional to factual helped us truly see the narrative of our daily discourse.

This informed my mapping exercise this week.

Map 114424187_971639432941717_1672945530_o

In Map 1 I revisited the stakeholders map we developed as a group in the beginning of this subject. However this time saw me develop a more clear and thorough view of the stakeholders and ‘environment’ as non human factors come into play. It was interesting to see how the discussion we’ve had around this issue has influencing my mapping and links I drew out. For instance data scraping exercise saw me draw out the issue of censorship and how it affects the stakeholders of media and government whilst influencing public perception. Furthermore from our initial map we discussed the role of media in depth which allowed me to flesh out this stakeholder even more. Finally when creating maps I always have questions arise which act as prompts for areas I could delve into more. I decided to incorporate this in my map as it presented a more natural mapping process with a richer view to look back on.

Map 214424098_971639376275056_29931199_o

Map 2 looked at the polemics instigated by the debates and emotions surrounding this topic. I created a list of these polemics by identifying the two actors debating. However it becomes instantly visible that there are multiple debates occurring across all stakeholders created a very interconnected yet at the same time a disjointed narrative around this issue. The narrative is not purely a social one, but one that concerns dynamics and outcomes on a social, emotional and physical sense. Hence ‘the social is not the explanation for the state of affairs of an issue; instead the state of affairs of an issue is precisely the social being performed by the actors.’ This essentially addresses Latour’s idea on the ‘associations between heterogeneous elements… a type of connection between things that are no themselves social (Rogers, Sánchez-Querubín & Kil 2015).’


Post mapping, I was able to get in touch with my peers and reflect on their collaborative maps. This was useful as it allowed me to compare my own mapping exercise to theirs and gain knowledge on areas I would’ve missed.I particularly found their Stakeholder map interesting as it drew on actors I missed out on and went to the extent of naming public figures.

(Below – their map of re-brainstorming of stakeholders)


Overall even though I missed out on the valuable insights gained from collaborative group work, I don’t feel like this exercise went to waste. Rather this week of self reflection of my personal thoughts was rather useful in really understanding the issue and identifying potential paths I would like to explore.


Rogers, R., Sánchez-Querubín, N. & Kil, A. 2015, Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe, OAPEN, Amsterdam.




Post 6 – Data Scraping

Rekha Dhanaram
The subject has seen me engage with numerous tasks that have helped me gauge an understanding on my chosen topic of Asylum Seeker and Refugees. The most recent task saw me go deeper and engage with online research through a unique means being data scraping. Data scraping allowed me to see the bigger picture but also the individual context of how people are reacting and engaging with this issue. With social media being a primary form of communication, data scraping is useful in understanding the different perspectives in regards to this issue.
I chose the platform of twitter to conduct my data-scraping tasks. Twitter is a social network, where people post or send a ‘tweet’, a short message of maximum 140 characters. With instant feedback either as a twitter follower or the tweeter, this service essentially allows people to reach countless others instantaneously. Furthermore the dialogue generated evidences it as a medium where people voice their opinions on varied issues. With this in mind twitter provided an appropriate platform to examine the public opinions around Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
Defining my research proved to be the most difficult part. Reflecting on the past few weeks, I’ve looked at this issue through a broad lens tapping into areas of media transparency, politics, processing environment and activism. Whilst its hard to narrow my focus, I decided to look into the legal context and activism through refugee experiences for this specific task.
Initially I did a very broad search on terms such as ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘Australia’. However the results were varied and whilst I was trying to get insight on the Australian society, I found that the tweets were from all over the world in response to the Australian situation. Thus I decided to go back and focus on an area I wanted to know more about. This led me to the hashtag #BorderForceAct.
The Border Force Act sees that anyone who ‘gains “protected information” during their employment service for the Border Force is barred from revealing this information without authorisation. The penalty for doing so is two years in prison.’ Whilst there have been no penalties charged under the BorderForceAct till date, it is still under constant criticism. I wanted to understand the stakeholders views in regards to this disputed issue which is highly relevant to the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Looking at the tweets and images that were accompanied with the hashtag revealed the various stakeholders in regards to this issue including campaigners, the general public and event works at asylum seeker centres. What was interesting to note in some of these posts was that they spoke of other issues that arise front the Border Force Act as seen through the use of the hashtags #Bringthemhere and more contrastingly #WhitePriviledge. These tweets and uses of hashtags are a form of activism or campaigning. And whilst they stand alone as individual campaigns, it was interesting to see how they intersect. More often than not the hashtags are used together to support multiple campaigns centred around the one issue of refugees and asylum seekers. Overall, these tweets were overwhelmingly taking a negative stance in regards to the issue.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO and founder Kon Karapanagiotidis and other tweets which raise the issue of White Privilege alongside the Border Force Act.
Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.23.12 pm
The #BringThemHere hashtag was equally common.
Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.23.38 pm
The tweets gave insight into the various stakeholders including workers, the public, doctors and nurses. 
Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.32.48 pmScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.32.58 pm
Whilst most of these were from an Australian perspective, I came across a news like twitter page called ‘Public Concern at work’ which constantly tweeted quotes and statistics from articles that related to this issue. Whilst it is based in UK, it was interesting to note that it frequently tweeted posts using this hashtag.
Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.23.49 pm
Furthermore when exploring the images, I found that there was a pattern of photographs of different protests peppered with political and satirical cartoons. I found it interesting that cartoons, which are traditionally in newspapers, are really popular in the ‘twittersphere’.
Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.37.14 pmScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 11.38.37 pm


Whilst the twitter search revealed interesting insights, I do believe that it would be better to add more parameters to gauge. I did however try to define the tone of posts, but unfortunately the results weren’t very accurate and in defining whether the tweet was opposing or supporting the Border Force Act.


  1. Hashtags in the twitter sphere can act as a form of activism.
  2. Whilst certain hashtags support specific campaigns, many users combine them with other Hashtags centred around the bigger issue. It highlights the interconnectedness of campaigns and the overall stance taken towards that issue.
  3. #BorderForceAct is quite ironic in nature as people are voicing their opinions on a law that prohibits  many from speaking.
  4. The Border Force Act received commentary from an international platform.




Post 5 – Interview + Probe Task

To gauge an understanding of others perspectives of refugees and asylum seekers I conducted a semi structured interview and probe task that would help garner insight into others interactions. This design led enthnography study helped articulate the varying degrees of understanding within the 18-25 age group.


Reflecting on the maps we created in our groups, I alongside my peers, developed a set of questions that provided the framework for our interviews. These interview questions drew on media transparency opposing views, Australian culture, public interaction and human rights.

The final questions I used for the interview are shown below:

  1. What are your current views on the asylum seeker/refugee situation?
  2. Do you think refugees will positively contribute to Australian society?
  3. How often are you exposed/interact with articles on refugees/asylum seekers? On what medium? (social media, newspapers, tv, in person etc). Do you engage with these articles or just scroll past them?
  4. What should be shown to us as the younger generational public figure?
  5. How do you think asylum seekers / refugees are portrayed to us as Australians? Not international level.

I conducted this interview on a peer aged 20 years. Referring to the questions occasionally, the interview had a conversational tone that truly allowed me to engage and develop an understanding of her personal views and actions.


It was interesting to see a different perspective in regards to this issue. The peer I interviewed (Interviewee 1) gave insight into her engagement with this topic particularly raising the fact that she ‘knows about both sides and understands why they have their reasons but doesn’t know where she stands in regards to them.’ Later interviewing another individual (Interviewee 2) aged 25 years with the same set of questions, I was able to identify this uncertainty in opinion as quite a common occurrence. This feeling of being overwhelmed was something both interviewees alluded to.

Continuing on, Interviewee 1 went on to state how she receives news through social media through a few friends who are very active in regards to this issue and post frequently. However she doesn’t really engage by clicking and reading further on. She did however raise further insights into her personal encounters and experiences surrounding this issue. For instance she spoke of how there is a poster at a church near where her sister lives which states that ‘children don’t belong in detention camps’. She went on to say how this has been there for many years and whilst its true, she believes that n one should be in detention camps. So while Interviewee 1 didn’t allude to supporting one side, she had a tendency to be understanding of both sides.

When asked about the portrayal of refugees and asylums seekers in media to the younger generation she raised how regardless of what you’re exposed to there’s a level of cultural influence that plays its part. The context you grow up in particularly affects this. She stated how she grew up in a suburb that was not very multicultural and diverse and whilst she was not exposed to outright racism, the language used around issues regarding race both in a social and school setting implied negative connotations. Thus the idea of people being unaware of how to talk and deal with these issues becomes apparent.

Interviewee 2 raised another idea stating how educating people is not the sole way of dealing with this issue. Whilst she had a more pro refugee stance, she highlighted how many people are comfortable with their established opinion and therefore don’t seek to educate themselves.

Overall the two interviews revealed a great depth of insight into not only their personal experiences and views but their understanding of the ecosystem surrounding this issue.


I conducted the probe on Interviewee 2. My probe was as follows:

Record the number of times you are exposed to an issue regarding refugees and asylum seekers, and note down what tone is used to convey this news. Is it negative, positive? affirmative or strong? critical? *The vocabulary for describing the tone can differ.


The results are depicted below:

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 11.55.47 pm.png

It was interesting to see how most of her exposure to news surrounding this issue came from the side supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Furthermore, to my surprise despite not actively engaging with the topic, she was continuously exposed to news regarding it. Her description of the tone did not have a wide vocabulary but through multiple adjectives, she conveyed enough information to gauge the perspective from which its coming.

Whilst the result were insightful upon reflecting I found that there’s quite a bit missing. I think it would be valuable to redo the task with the additional component that the participant must record their exposure to the issue, whether it be via photograph, screenshot, a written account etc. This will allow me to compare and thus understand their judgment on the tone, as what I perceive the be strongly negative may vary with them. Furthermore it will allow me to see the different ways in which they’re exposed to this issue whether it be news, social media, conversations, education etc.

Post 3 – Map of Stakeholders + Image Archive

Mapping the Stakeholders


To understand the context of our chosen issue, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, we spent time during class mapping out the stakeholders and participants involved. The map above depicts our first attempt at understanding the context. This rapid mapping saw us look at both the human and non-human actors involved,  and consequently how interconnected they are.


The influence of each actor both human and non human are of varying degrees and contexts. Thus  it became apparent that within this larger map of the refugee and asylum seekers there are more defined contexts such as the physical processing facilities and environment, the media, the governmental sector and the human aid and support ecosystem.

This map prompted much discussion around this issue and consequently saw us identify two broad areas we wanted to focus more on being the ‘Conditions’ of asylum seekers and refugees during the stages of departure, travel, detention and settlement and additionally the ‘Media Transparency’ surrounding the issue. Mapping this saw us identify the entities that influence these situations and to my surprise, despite focusing on a smaller context, the maps produced still covered broad areas.

Finally the process of creating the previous two maps we kept identifying how some entities act on the smaller scale while others act on the larger scale. However the terms ‘small’ and ‘large’ have an associated value attached and therefore did not accurately represent what we were trying to convey. Eventually we landed on terms ‘extrinsic’ and ‘intrinsic’. Thus our maps weren’t focused on separating the positive and negative views and actions around the issue but rather understanding the different levels of this issue. 


This final map revealed a more considered understanding of the issue. From our initial map, to this one our understanding of the issue visibly developed. What we gained most was the understanding of the complexity of this issue, how different lenses can highlight different patterns and relationships eventually highlighting the need to look at this issue from many different directions.

Image Archive

Source 1: First day at sea


Titled ‘First day at sea’, this photograph was taken by Barat Ali Batoor, as he began a journey that would change his life. Using ‘documentary photography as a tool for change’ Batoor took photographs throughout the duration of his journey from Afghanistan to Australia. In this particular photograph he was on a boat with 92 other asylum seekers hiding under deck. However like many other boats from Indonesia, it never made it to Australia but rather ‘ran aground on rocks’. This image was then later named the first Nikon-Walkey Photo of the Year as it ‘broadened the debate and helped us visualised what happens before the boats arrive at Christmas Island.’

Source 2: Omran-Daqneesh-syria-war-usa-isis-mena-child

One of the most recent confronting pictures to surface on international media, this image depicts a boy ‘Omran Daqneesh’ sitting in an ambulance after being rescued from a bombed home in Aleppo, Syria. The rubble covered, bloodied face and his confused still expression conveys his shock. When viewed in the context of the video that emerged, we see how remains frozen as more children are being rescued. Whilst it garnered great media attention the confronting nature of this image is a reminder of the ongoing conflict occurring.

I feel that every so often a strong powerful image is swept across international media and reminds us that this is not a short term issue. As the general public we go through waves of focusing and then departing away from the issue, due to the very little knowledge we have in regards to how we can create change.

Source 3: Asylum seekers on baord the Tampa


The 2001 Tampa incident saw  438 mostly Afghan refugees rescued from their sinking boat by the Norwegian vessel MV Tampa. Whilst four hours way from Christmas Island, the Australian government did not grant them permission to enter. Eventually they were taken to Nauru.

What’s most interesting about these images is the analysis done by researchers from the University of Queensland. Examining the media representation of the Tampa incident specifically on the ‘The Australian’ and the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ newspapers. Their research revealed that 42% of images depict asylum seekers from a distance whereas only 2% show images with recognisable facial features. Thus whilst this image was the ‘most widely circulated images from the crisis’ it raises questions on media outlets attempt to dehumanise the issue.

Source 4: No Way. You will not make Australia Home.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 8.57.54 am

Part of the Abbott governments Regional Deterrence Framework Campaign, costing 420 million dollars is this video and poster titled ‘No Way. You will not make Australia Home.’ Featuring the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders Angus Campbell, the video over a minute, simply reinforces the pictured message. Campbell’s address has been translated into 12 languages and has become quite controversial as a government approach to tackle this issue.However till date it stands on online platforms specifically on youtube, posted by the Australian Border Force, with 529,966 views and comments disabled.

It raises concerns on the extent to which the government will go to stop boats and further highlights this backwards extreme propaganda approach.

Source 5: Asylum seekers sewing lips shut over visa denial


One of several photos of asylum seekers protesting visa denial for boat arrivals on Nauru or Manus Island. Activists say that of those sewing their lips together ‘at least seven are minors, some of them unaccompanied minors’. Whilst blurred out, the pictures remain visual and convey their desperate circumstance. Furthermore, these series are part of the larger activist movement of self harm in detention centres, raising concern on the physical and mental health of these individuals. Whilst a single image is confronting, knowing that there are a series of these, really puts the issue into perspective in regards to how far these people are willing to go, to merely attain human rights.

Source 6: Petra Laszlo


This image went viral as it depicts TV Camerawoman Petra Laszlo tripping a man carrying a child as they try to escape from a collection point in Roszke, Hungary. Laszlo was later fired after videos of her kicking and tripping many migrants fleeing from police spread across media internationally.Whilst the refugee struggle is usually depicted through images of their treacherous journey or conflict with government officials, this image stands alone. It depicts the role of media and the general public in the journey of refugees and how they can antagonise the situation further.  Like many of these images it was interesting to see the responses towards it and the way it affected people.

Source 7: Aylan Kurdi


This image of a lifeless body of the toddler Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach became a symbol of the refugee plight. It shed light on the lives of children in the asylum seeker, refugee situation. Surfacing on the front page of countless newspapers and online social media and websites, the image had gone viral with the hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik meaning humanity washed ashore. And with the father being the only surviving family member, it addressed the dangerous journey many face and furthermore how they consider the travelling through the seas to be a safer option than staying on land.

Source 8: Reza Barati

A-vigil-for-Reza-Barati--001This image depicts a vigil held for Reza Barati, an asylum seeker killed during the unrest at Manus Island detention centre.The explanation for his death was summarised as ‘multiple head injuries, that could be caused by a heavy object’. The image with photo, candles and banner convey the Australian public’s response to his death which whilst dubbed by officials as being a result of asylum seekers escalating conflict, raises more questions on the actual cause and the role played by security and police.

Source 9: Omid Masoumali protest on Nauru

7371960-3x2-940x627This image is of a protest on Nauru in the event of Omid Masoumali’s death. Having set himself on fire, the young Iranian man was taken to a Brisbane hospital where he later died. At the time a team rom the UNHCR were on Nauru and in light of the event called for the immediate transfer for refugees and asylum seekers both from Manus Island and Nauru. This protest is one of many that occur and whilst the image just depicts Omid’s name on the shirts with no indication of what happened or why, we can immediately see that his name becomes a symbol for them all. His name represents more than just him, through unity it represents the struggle faced by all and the potential for any one of them being in his situation.

Source 10: Manus Island Detention Centre 

2281This photograph shows asylum seekers looking through a fence at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea. Whilst there are many photos like this of the multiple detention centres what’s interesting is how much they resemble a prison, something they are criticised for actually being. The high fences, that surround the camp and the slumped postures convey the negative atmosphere of such a setting. Further being a common sight, we become numb to these images as they establish a perceived norm when they should not be.

Reference List

  1. Batoor,B. 2013, ‘First Day at Sea’, [online], <;.
  2. Australian Border Force, ‘No Way. You will not make Australia Home., [online, <;.
  3. Wallenius Wilhelmsen/AAP, 2001, ‘Asylum seekers on board the Tampa’, [online], <;.
  4. Daily O, ‘Omran Daqneesh’, 2016, [online], <;.
  5. SBS, 2014, ‘Of those sewing their lips together, activists say at least seven are minors, some of them unaccompanied minors’, [online], <;.
  6. Reuters, 2015, ‘A migrant runs with a child before tripping on TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo (L) and falling as he tries to escape from a collection point in Roszke village, Hungary’, [online], <;.
  7. Nilufer Demir, 2015, A young Syrian boy lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey, [online], <>.
  8. Bunton, M. 2014, ‘A man sits next to a picture of Barati at a vigil’, [online], <;.
  9. ABC, 2016, ‘UNHCR says the recent events in Nauru are symptomatic of a loss of hope’, [online], <;.
  10. Reuters, 2013, ‘Asylum seekers look through a fence at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea Photograph’, [online], <;.

Post 4 – Makers Unite


The topical nature of refugees and asylum seekers is rather confronting and thus is not often the subject matter of designs. Yet when designers do explore such social issues, interesting insights are to be gained. A great example of this is ‘Makers Unite’, a project that earned recognition as the top five designs in the ‘What Design Can Do Challenge’.

Makers Unite is a service design project in the sense that it organises people and infrastructure in an innovative way to deal with complex problems around refugees and asylum seekers. Whilst it has a niche focus in that it seeks to ‘design meaningful sustainable products re-using life vests’ the program connects locals and newcomers ‘to co-create inclusive and shared communities’

The idea of upcycling life vests seemed ingenious to me. It’s something that many refugees and asylum seekers depend on to save their lives and at the same time the thousands of life vests that end up onshore are a symbol of the human plight. This especially resonates with an artwork titled F-Lotus by Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei where he installed life jackets in Vienna ‘as part of a continued campaign to raise awareness of the Syrian Refugee crisis’.

However what’s unique about Makers Unite is the ecosystem it creates. As evidenced in the knowledge flow diagram, people are involved in multiple levels of the project and further the feedback loop generated in this approach, allows the organisation to evolve and change perceptions overtime, a large barrier for refugees and asylum seekers.

Whilst it does not rely on many new technologies and materials, the innovative component is in the strategy and approach they have adopted. The ‘sustainist design toolkit’ refers to their sustainable practice which seeks to limit waste. More importantly however is the people they bring together, Harnessing the skills or lack of skills of locals designers and students and migrants and new comers allows for self organisation where a learning environment is created organically. While this may seem simple, this approach is valuable as giving autonomy to migrants and locals has a ten fold effect in that it develops their self confidence, diminishes their uncertainty and establishes empathy from both sides. Further to this, the profits raised support the continuity of tho project and also provide assistance to facilitate new businesses that tackle these issues. Essentially the ecosystem of Makers Unite fosters a strong community around the fragile and complex problem of diaspora.

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Creating awareness through a unique campaign where life vests are used to generate type and consequently convey a message.

The Ribbons

‘Here they are… the prototypes of our first ribbons.’

This successful idea of promoting the cause through a ribbon made of life vests is one outcome of the many projects Makers Unite work on.

 Reference List,
  1. Weiwei,A. 2016, ‘F-Lotus’, [online], <;.
  2. Makers Unite, n.a., ‘Knowledge Flow’, [online], <;
  3. Makers Unite, n.a., ‘Practice’, [online], <;
  4. Makers Unite, n.a., ‘#Re_Vestlife’, [online], <!#Re_Vestlife/zoom/c1dmp/dataItem-iq3i06ry&gt;.
  5. Makers Unite, n.a., ‘The Ribbons’, [online], <!The Ribbons/zoom/c1dmp/dataItem-imdo1x7f1>.


Post 2 – Scholarly Secondary Sources

Professor Gillian Triggs is the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and prior to this she had several other roles including Dean of the Faculty of Law, Challis Professor of International Law at University of Sydney (2007-12), Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2005-07), Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and a Governor of the College of Law. In this article she focuses on the concerns about Australia’s mandatory immigration detention system, conveying the Human Rights Commission into this matter and the stance taken.

Triggs’ article recounts personal experiences of visiting these detention centres, giving vivid detail on the prison like state of many facilities. She seeks to remind us of who asylum seekers are, and how these facilities can have a great impact on the physically and mentally. However her ongoing association with the Human Rights Commission, how they’ve have ‘raised concerns over many years’ and ‘work to promote and protect the human rights of people held in detention through a number of functions’ conveyed this tone that they are doing all that they can. Whilst I agree that the Human Rights Commission serves an important role, I feel that they hold a great deal of power in regards tot his issue cane canon simply keep accusing the government. In a sense i simplify the issue to be along that lines of ‘we want to do something and believe that we should but can’t’. 

Linda Leung, Cath Finney Lamb and Liz Emrys article also explores the living conditions within mandatory detention centres but hones in on the aspect of technology. Unlike many scholarly articles around this issue, this article is very specific in its focus and thus unveils detailed insights into the role of technology in marginalised communities.

They highlight the role of technology across the three settings of displacement, detention and settlement as a means of keeping in contact with family and loved ones. Conversely through personal refugee stories they show how the lack of access to technology can act as a deterrent to maintaining well being, and often causes emotional distress through uncertainty and isolation. This article stands as a factual piece exploring the laws, policies and use of technology. However through the personal tone, the authors are able to raise this need to challenge the existing system and provide access to technology for communication. Critically looking at the existing detention centre, they identify the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers, much like Triggs’ articles. However their exploration of the role of communication in the journey of a refugee is articulate well, presenting all sides to develop a cohesive argument.


Triggs, G. 2013, Why we need an end to mandatory detention, Refugee and Asylum Seekers: Finding a better way, pp.38-41.

Leung, L. Lamb, C. &  Emrys, L. 2009,The use of technology by Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Technology’s Refugee, pp.1-43.

Post 1 – Asylum seekers and Refugees


How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees

‘How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees’ is a rebuke by Eva Orner and Steven Glass for the The Sydney Morning Herald. Whilst The Sydney Morning Herald has its roots as a conservative newspaper seeking to not endorse any political alignment, the authors of this piece question and probe the government’s stance on its refugee and asylum seeker policies.

Not being regular contributors or even writers, it’s interesting to highlight both author’s professions. Orner is an Academy and Emmy Award winning Australian filmmaker, who most recently produced the ‘Chasing Asylum’ documentary, known for revealing the behind the scenes of Australias’ asylum seekers and refugees processing. Glass on the other hand is a partner at the law firm Gilbert + Tobin as well as a board member of the Asylum Seekers Centre Sydney, where he seeks to educate and support refugees by making them aware and helping them navigate through Australian law. Thus both authors’ initatives in their careers are visibly concurrent with the strong stance they’ve taken. In the article, Orner and Glass ongoingly question the governemnt, at times being very direct as seen in ‘Why did you, Mr Dutton, falsely accuse refugees (who must be plane arrivals, since you’ve told us boats have stopped) of threatening the jobs and security of Australians?’

Whilst presenting statistical insights into Australia’s policies in comparison to the global context, I consider this article to be quite opinion based. It has been influenced by the authors outrage towards these ‘cruel policies’ and ‘false’ accusations of refugees.


Politics of Asylum Seekers has poisoned the policy

Similar to Orner and Glass, author Peter Brent criticises the way Australian politicians look at the issue of asylum seekers and refugees. However Brent sits on the fence, neither supporting an all out refugee intake nor the current boat policies at play. Brent is a regular contributing writer for ABC was well as an adjunct fellow at Swinburne University. Being a political commentator the topic of discussion is understandable, but rather than criticising and forming an opinion, he seeks to analyse the issue. Thus this article looks at a brief history of politicians’ changing stances towards asylum seekers and refugees and the agenda behind it.

Throughout the article there is a strong undertone that the approach towards this complex problem is more of a political game. Hence whilst he never blatantly questions or says what the government needs to do, he raises the wrongs on both sides.


Revealed: Immigration officers allowed to hack phones

Mark Townsend is a Home Affairs Editor of the Observer hence he covers a wide range of issues pertaining to the international context. In this article he writes about the revelation of immigration officials treatment of detainees. Referencing many sources, from different perspectives, both those who implement legislation and those who are against it, this article is more factual and informative. In contrast to the previous articles, this one looks at the asylum seekers and refugees in the context of detention centres particularly in Britain, rather thank Australia’s Political policies. Furthermore it provides insight on their treatment and rights and raises topical points. Since it is more factual, its not a matter of whether I agree or don’t but rather I find that the issues raised are important, and one than needs to be heard and addressed. 


Friday Essay: worth a thousand words -how photos shape attitudes towards refugees

Jane Lydon is a Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at the University of Western Australia. Having written books on photography and Australian History her article explores the photographical documentation and representation of refugees. Furthermore the ‘The Conversation’ provides a platform for academics to write and provide insight on their area of expertise. Hence this article is factual as it delves into Australia’s history of refugee and how media has either represented the issues or been oppressed. It goes on further to look into particular events on an international scale. Lydon raises ideas on how photography can give voice to the oppressed, can convey political agendas, and start controversial discussions. This article definitely challenges the value and understanding we have of photographs. In saying that I found that photography through media representation can be on either ends of the spectrum in conveying truth, but regardless the motivation behind it tells a very important story that needs to be highlighted.


Comment: The Australian Solution

Waleed Aly, a regular host on the current affair program ‘The Project’ often voices strong thoughts on the global and Australian context, particularly focusing the government. Being a media presenter, lawyer, academic and writer, he comments on the issue of asylums seekers and refugees quite often and is well versed on the topic. However it is undeniable that there is bias in his writing as seen in this Article for The Monthly, a seemingly ‘left wing’ magazine.

In this article he explores the previous solutions posed by the Australian government, only to criticise its’ most recent attempt as well. Through clever rhetoric and direct statements he conveys his opposition of present policies. Furthermore, delving into each parties stance, he dissects the qualities that differentiate these parties to instead highlight the one similarity they hold, their selfishness. Hence by referencing the tone of politicians themselves, Waleed uses satire to suggest the comedic and questionable nature of the government. I find his written style entertaining and informative, however the extreme use of rhetoric highlight the very obvious personal bias, making this an opinion piece.

Further Investigation

Exploring the above articles revealed a number of perspectives, controversies and insights surrounding the refugee and asylum seeker context. Whilst there were many varied questions raised, I believe that it is valuable to delve into the following three areas:

  1. The political motives behind Australia’s stance on the refugee and asylum seekers situation.
  2. The representation of asylum seekers and refugees in media.
  3.  The rights and context of asylum seekers and refugees in detention centres, understanding their rights, the policies to play, what’s being portrayed and what is hidden.
It’s notable that there are overlapping and interconnected areas, but that itself highlights the complexity of this problem. Overtime have developed an opinion in regards to this situation, but merely reading several articles revealed the lack of depth n my understanding. Therefore I find that investigating these three areas will provide a holistic understanding, but even more so challenge me to explore difficult areas. Consequently, I hope to become more well informed in this topic, one that I feel is incredibly relevant at the present moment.


Glass, S. & Orner, E. 2016,  How Australians should deal with asylum seekers and refugees, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.

Brent, P. 2016, Politics of Asylum Seekers has poisoned the policy, ABC News, viewed 5 August 2016, <>.

Townsend, M. 2016, Revealed: Immigration officers allowed to hack phones, The Guardian, viewed 4 August 2016, <>.

Lydon, J. 2016, Friday Essay: worth a thousand words -how photos shape attitudes towards refugees, The Conversation, viewed 5 August 2016, <>.

Aly, W. 2010, Comment: The Australian Solution, viewed 28 July 2016, <>.