Post 10: Reflection and proposition

Upon presenting my draft proposal to Tamar and Elvina, they gave me invaluable feedback in regards to the medium or methodology to incorporate my ideas. We discussed how there is no definite or simplistic solution to the asylum seeker/refugee crisis, and in terms of what we are designing, we are only able to evoke a sympathetic response from the audience. From here, I worked with previous discussions and probe with the concept of how most people are indifferent on the issue, mostly because the issue effects them indirectly and also because there is no clear solution that an individual can attribute.

With my proposition now, I am working on an environment that would allow me to collect data and visualise it to show the juxtaposition of privileged “first world” living or media to real stories and views from personal asylum seeker stories. I want to create a sense of sympathy that is not generally replicated through mainstream news, where terms and tones of news about asylum seekers are generally negative. Through this proposition, I want to somehow integrate a sense of sympathy along with a few solutions in a way to create a sense of knowledge on the issue and donation to causes that can assist.


Post 8: Brainstorming possibilities for a design response

With a main focus on ideas of negative media representation of asylum seekers and refugees, my probe slowly moved myself to consider on a person’s inability or feeling of inability to take positive action on the issue. Media plays an important role in presenting us with current news and events; but perspectives can be skewed depending on biases and media’s participation to manipulate opinions.

I started off reflecting on my process, and wanting to incorporate 5 crucial points in my statement:

  • Awareness of the issue: people who are not generally aware of the overall story and impact that asylum seekers and refugees have that could directly or indirectly affect them, whether it is at a political, economic or social level.
  • Active participation: people are aware of the issue, but are not invested enough in the issue to become actively involved. There is a need to help, but there are not sufficient avenues on how to help.
  • Media representation: negative language is already in place to refer to asylum seekers and refugees makes it difficult to establish a more positive media environment to bring more positive acknowledgement.
  • There is no direct or simple solution to solve the asylum seeker/refugee crisis. It is important to understand that the issue is complex and that the issue affects people differently.
  • Identifying a target audience who is aware of the issue, who is aware there is a need for something to be done but need an avenue to help that does not affect them negatively.

Post 6: Scraping the web for data

Firstly, looking at the data from Twitter, the search for “asylum seekers” bring out many tweets in regards to the European asylum seeker crisis, and the Australian treatment of asylum seekers. Many activists voice out their opinions which come up as “top tweets”, mostly from Australian reporters.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 8.54.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.26.45 PM

On Facebook, there are mostly articles from media sources being posted about the asylum seeker journey and legal issues from different countries.

Post 3: Mapping the participants (human and non-human) and constructing an image archive


Since the issue of asylum seekers/refugees continues to remain a controversial and continually growing topic, my group and I created a rough mind map of all individuals and stakeholders who have a position or impact from the issue. This was a great way to put out ideas quickly, and to not focus on one small area but on the issue as a whole. After this, we transcribed our brainstorm into a more articulate mapping of the connections of stakeholders and how this issue transpires from a national scale, to an international scale.


Image Archive:image-20160727-7064-jei8kwImage 1: Barat Ali Batoor, The First Day at Sea Courtesy Barat Ai Batoor

A close-up shot of the interior of a boat that has been used by those seeking asylum. Faces can be seen, and this image allows an intimate look into a scene on the asylum seeker journey. It is known that these boats are small and overcrowded with people; seeing them show up beneath a plank inheres connotations to the distressing and desperate nature of seeking asylum by boat.

asylum_boat_ad_130930_aapImage 2: The Changing Language of Asylum Seeker Policies

This is one example of how governmental campaigns who only have self-interested objectives can manipulate language to benefit them. The use of colour and harsh lines contribute to the negative impression of the image. The language used in the image is overall negative, such as the use of the words “illegal” and “lost control”.

image-20160726-31171-he5nn5Image 3: Asylum seekers on board the Tampa. Wallenius Wilhelmsen/AAP

The photograph has been taken from a distance, where the viewer can see how people are sitting in rows. The distance that it has been taken removes a sense of story or background to a person; a lack of individuality or distinct features removes a sense of empathy from the backstory behind the photograph.

image-20160726-23383-1t6ab63Image 4: An October 8, 2001 file photo of video footage of refugees being rescued in seas off Christmas Island by defence personnel from HMAS Adelaide. Defence PR/AAP

A controversial file photo video footage from the TAMPA incident in 2001, faces are blurred as asylum seekers are rescued from the water. A man, woman and child are seen being rescued by what is assumed to be the rescuer in the yellow life jacket. This image shows the struggles that asylum seekers face on their journey by boat.

image-20160726-12749-10vu7oaImage 5: Children drinking milk. Courtesy Project SafeCom, Jack H Smit.

An image of refugees being rescued and taken care of. This image is a close up shot with distinct features and individuality exposed to give a greater sense of empathy. A recognisable sense of happiness and relief can be seen from this close up shot.

image-20160726-7064-w6vnc2Image 6: Aboard the HMAS Adelaide Courtesy Project SafeCom, Jack H Smit.

This kind of image is rarely seen in mainstream media, a relieved mother and child are seen after being rescued by the HMAS Adelaide. Being given fresh clothes, the mother and child looks safe and thankful after being rescued and knowing that their boat journey is over.

image-20160726-7058-1uas657Image 7: Aylan Kurdi, Bodrum, September 2015. AAP

A confrontational image of a three-year-old Syrian boy which went viral, Aylan’s body was washed ashore after trying to reach Greece with his brother and mother. This brings out an emotional response to the viewer, thinking about the sacrifices these families have to make, and what could push them to take on this dangerous journey.

image-20160726-7045-7zu18wImage 8: David Moore Migrants arriving in Sydney 1966, gelatin silver photograph. Art Gallery of NSW, gift of the artist 1997 © Lisa, Michael, Matthew and Joshua Moore

This image reveals a close up shot with distinct facial features of migrants arriving in Sydney. Their faces show a sense of hope and also fear as they enter a foreign country.

233325-asylum-seekersImage 9: Unidentified… only one in five asylum seekers arriving by boat has a passport or identifying documents.

The wide shot having all the faces of the people in the boat visible really humanises the image. The sign highlights the desperate measures the asylum seekers undergo.

Image 10: “You won’t be settled in Australia”

As a part of Australia’s “Turn Back The Boats” campaign, this poster was created to deter asylum seekers/refugees from taking the risk of travelling to Australia by boat without essential documents. The words “You won’t be settled in Australia” viewed first, then the lonely image of the boat on the vast sea. The poster attempts to create a harsh visual to discourage asylum seekers.

Art Gallery NSW 1997, David Moore Migrants arriving in Sydney 1966, gelatin silver photograph. Art Gallery of NSW, gift of the artist 1997, The Conversation, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

Australian Photography, 2013, Barat Ali Batoor Wins Nikon-Walkley ‘Photo of the Year’, Australian Photography, viewed 15 August 2016, <>.

Defence PR/AAP 2016, An October 8, 2001 file photo of video footage of refugees being rescued in seas off Christmas Island by defence personnel from HMAS Adelaide, The Conversation, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

Herald Sun, 2012, Unidentified… only one in five asylum seekers arriving by boat has a passport or identifying documents, Herald Sun, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

SBS Radio, 2013, The changing language of asylum-seeker policy, SBS, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

Smit J.H. 2016, Aboard the HMAS Adelaide Courtesy Project SafeCom, The Conversation, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

Smit J.H. 2016, Children drinking milk. Courtesy Project SafeCom, The Conversation, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

The Independent, 2016, A young Syrian boy, who drowned in his family’s attempt to reach Greece from Turkey, lies in the surf near Bodrum, Turkey, The Independent UK, viewed 15 August 2016, <;

Wilhelmsen, W. 2016 , Asylum seekers on board the Tampa, The Conversation, viewed 15 August 2016, <;


Post 5: Finding the view: an investigation into communication and representation

Looking at how different mediums of communication transmit the issue of asylum seekers/refugees, I developed a series of questions and a task for my interviewee to gain a greater understanding of a person’s perspective on the issue. It is acknowledged that there is a broad spectrum of views and understandings on the topic, and by investigating one person’s perspective on the matter, it would not give me a greater understanding of how asylum seekers/refugees are represented in media. However, a concentrated input on one perspective remains a valuable source of information as I could compare it to my own opinions and perspectives.

The interviewee (pseudonym Hannah) was interviewed on the 15th of August 2016 at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). With a strong tertiary educated background, I was particularly interested in how her education and social circle has impacted her stance on the issue. In addition to this, I also probed her on questions on if she was actively involved, and how people could become actively involved or promote awareness.

Hannah is strongly opinionated on the topic, recognising that the government and media has negatively manipulated the way asylum seekers/refugees are regarded. She points out that governmental election campaigns were the main source of negativity, such as using the slogan “stop the boats” to gather and maintain election votes. When probed on where she receives her information from, Hannah replied that she does not actively go out to seek information on asylum seekers, but hears her information from widely publicised news sources such as through social media or through news programs. She is aware that the media coverage on the issue is distorted, and believes that most news coverage is “click bait”; stories are manipulated, negative or positively, depending on perspective that would gain more public interest.

I found that Hannah’s perspective on the issue was strongly swayed and supportive of asylum seekers/refugees, and is aware of the governmental mistreatment through news and other media. She is aware of the torture and legislations and UN treaties surrounding asylum seekers/refugees, and the Australian Government’s illegal handling on the matter. Having a strong educational background, and with constant interaction in an area that is highly accessible to information, I think that Hannah’s perspective is strongly influenced by these areas.

Go Back to Where You Came From” is an Australian TV documentary series that follow six ordinary Australians with differing views on asylum seekers through the journey that asylum seekers take to reach Australia. For Hannah’s probe, I asked her to watch the trailer for the series and asked for her personal response to the confronting series. Having never watched the series or seen advertisements for it before, Hannah believes that even if the public watches the series, the public reaction would remain fairly divisive. She points out issues that if there was to be a true impact of public opinion on the issue of asylum seekers/refugees, some may question the authenticity of the scenes depicted.

There is an overriding theme from the interview and probe. The observation that we consciously know that media is capable of manipulating ideas in a way to create an appearance that would benefit them most is predominantly noticeable in most individuals. We do overlook this sometimes, and possibly people only want to receive and respond to information that they want to see or what impacts them.  Even though given a very narrowed down view on the issue of asylum seekers/refugees, the interview and probe remains a valuable insight on a strong perspective on how language and manipulation of communication can affect a person’s opinion on a subject.

Overview of interview and probe:

  1. The media and the language that it uses strongly affects a person’s opinions and perspectives on asylum seekers and refugees.
  2. Factors such as education, geographical location, ethnicity, social groups and media access play an important role in affecting a person’s view.
  3. To become active in this issue, people would have to be directly affected by it in order to act upon it.
  4. People are only attracted and react to ideas that affect them directly. This is observed in media outlets where articles can take a certain direction or turn depending on what perspective would attract the most “views” or “interaction”.
  5. It is acknowledged by people that media can strongly affect our perspectives, but we do not actively acknowledge this when processing information.


Post 4- Europa dreaming

Europa Dreaming was created in 2013 by Matteo Moretti and Massimiliano Boschi, to transmit the statistical and emotive data of refugee and asylum seekers who travel through Northern Europe through visual journalism. Formatted as a website, the project compacts and conveys data in a way that is visually appealing and effective to engage the European audience to the history and issues of asylum seekers/refugees. The project was based on the inspiration to “create a project that would reveal the real situation – not the one told according to the law, not the one according to the local press.” (Moretti 2016).

europeData Driven Journalism, 2016. 

The term “Europa Dreaming” is a metaphor to juxtapose the term in reflection of migration law. This re-contextualisation of the term gives an imperative rhetoric to show how a migrant’s dream to migrate into Europe is a “broken dream”, and how vastly different reality is. The project heavily emphasises the affect that not having a shared asylum seeker/refugee policy is “one of Europe’s biggest weaknesses” (Moretti 2016). The “Europa Dreaming” project overall takes the viewer on a journey on the asylum seeker/refugee crisis to broaden their view and analyse data through historical, geographical and statistical values in an engaging matter. Researchers, anthropologists, journalists, photographers and designers collaborated together and input their views to “attempt to contextualise what is happening to the European dream, to those who live there and to those who arrive there” (Europa Dreaming 2016).

The countries of Europe have differing policies in outlining the legislations surrounding asylum seekers and refugees. “Europa Dreaming” presents these legislations by representing the idea visually through simplistic but visually effective data visuals. The website is organised through a single-column system, where the page is segmented into different parts. Not only the single-column scrolling system allows the viewer to consume information at their own pace, but also ensures that important information will not be missed. The way information is collated is very clever, as points of interactivity are placed in a way to engage the viewer with information (that is not overwhelming) and to continuously pull the viewer in.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 2.10.24 PM.pngEuropa Dreaming 2016

“Europa Dreaming” uses texts, newspaper articles, videos, infographics and animated maps to communicate different parts of the issue. Even though content heavy, “Europa Dreaming” remains engaging through its visual interactions. Information is not lost as each interactive or media section is created specifically to project qualitative and quantitative in the best visual means possible.

Moretti, M. 2016, Europa Dreaming: Using visual journalism to question the European Dream,, viewed 22 August 2016, <;.

Moretti, M., Boschi, M., Weissensteiner, M., Burgio, V., Corrent C., Pisoni, L., Cimarelli, A. & Bernard, T. 2016, Europa Dreaming, viewed 22 August 2016, <;.



Post 2: Building your expertise using scholarly secondary sources

Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976 – Statistical appendix updated 23 July 2013

Phillips J. & Spinks H. 2013, Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976, Parliament of Australia, viewed 8 August 2016, <>.

Janet Phillips and Harriet Spinks are researchers for the Parliament of Australia.  Phillips has written about 47 research papers for APO, with focus on domestic violence and immigration issues. Spinks largely focusses on immigration policies, having written 17 research papers regarding asylum seekers to visa guides. With such a large number of articles written about the issue of asylum seekers and refugees between the both of them, it is probable to suggest that the issue is a significant subject for both authors. In the paper, there is both factual and bias towards the misinformation of asylum seekers in the Australian public, and the negative response that has on political policies. The paper concludes that there is “a widespread perception in the community that Australia is being swamped by asylum seekers arriving by boat continues to strongly influence government policy and to be an emotive and divisive political issue” (Phillips, Spinks 2013). I believe this final statement supports both authors’ bias towards the belief that the interpretation of asylum seekers and refugees is misleading that influences and impacts the community.

Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary (20 June 2016)

Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2016, Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary, Australian Government, viewed 8 August 2016, <>.

The Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) provides an overview of the number of people in immigration detention and processing centres. As the regulation of immigration is an important role for the DIBP, the statistics summary is an important and professional document from a reliable source as it is from a government body. As a statistical report, the paper only gives factual information and points out trends in tables and graphs with factual statements. Maintaining an impartial standpoint is important for this governmental body as the issue of asylum seekers and refugees is an important political issue, so the way the information is written and displayed is written in a matter of observation and facts.

Post 1: Creating a data set using secondary sources

1. Changing the conversation can lead to a better way on asylum seekers

Higgins, C. 2016, ‘Changing the conversation can lead to a better way on asylum seekers’, The Conversation, 17 May, viewed 30 July 2016, <;.

Dr Claire Higgins is a Research Associate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. She holds a doctorate in History from the University of Oxford. At the Kaldor Centre, Higgin’s research surrounds the issues of refugee status determination, and alternative policies for the processing of asylum seekers. She is writing for “The Conversation”, an independent not-for-profit organisation for the academic and research community. The Conversation holds links to author profiles, which shows brief information about Higgin’s academic career. The article also contains many links to other sources to information to back up her claims of statistics and other research articles.

Higgins has written a total of four articles for “The Conversation”. By being a research associate for UNSW and her primary focus being refugee status and processing of asylum seekers, Higgins must be well informed in the subject matter. All the articles Higgins has written for “The Conversation” refers to the issue of asylum seekers in Australia. They all refer to the government’s handling and processing of asylum seekers. It contains factual, researched and opinion based material. Higgins uses many statistics with references in her article, as well as placing her own opinion on the matter. She is biased towards to humane protection of asylum seekers. Higgins maintains a position of a change of political and social perspectives of asylum seekers and refugees.

2. What’s next for asylum seekers under a re-elected Turnbull government?

O’Sullivan, M. 2016, ‘What’s next for asylum seekers under are-elected Turnbull government’, The Conversation, July 18, viewed 30 July 2016, <;.

Maria O’Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law and an Associate of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University. Her teaching and research interests are administrative law and international refugee law. This article is for “The Conversation”. Having written and been involved in international refugee law, the article proves as a reliable source not only through O’Sullivan’s experience with asylum seekers and refugee issues, but also with the use of links and referencing to back up her claims. Being a human rights lawyer, O’Sullivan must be passionate about the rights of asylum seekers/refugees. She has written 12 articles for The Conversation all about Australia’s processing of asylum seekers.

O’Sullivan writes about the Australian Government’s policies and High Court rulings on asylum seeker topics. She questions whether Australia’s policies comply with Human Rights Conventions. The article is well researched with factual statistics with links to references to other articles and statistics. It also contains opinions on the asylum seeking matter in Australia with long-term focussed ideas on improved asylum seeker processing solutions and policies. I do agree with O’Sullivan’s idea, as I also think there should be a longer-term solution to the policies that Australia has on asylum seekers.


3. Asylum seeker flown out of Melbourne after standoff between police and protesters

Doherty, B. 2016, ‘Asylum seeker flown out of Melbourne after standoff between police and protesters’, The Guardian, 26 July, viewed 30 July 2016, <;.

Ben Doherty is a reporter for Guardian Australia, and a former foreign correspondent for the Guardian, covering south-east Asia. As the issue of asylum seekers and refuges continues to be a major topic for Australian politics, the offshore detention centre policy as made Doherty responsible for some coverage of overseas affairs. Doherty has written articles about asylum seekers before, such as ‘refugee camp company in Australia liable for crimes against humanity’, where a company is at risk of prosecution for their role of mistreatment of asylum seekers at offshore detention centres.  This article is more factual, as it is a report of a series of events that has happened in regards to the forcible removal of a person from immigration detention. I would say there is a particular bias towards the mistreatment of asylum seekers as a negative impact.


4. Asylum seeker coverage should make Australian media feel humiliated, Nauru Minister says

Doran, M. 2016, ‘Asylum seeker coverage should make Australian media feel humiliated, Nauru Minister says’, ABC, 14 July, viewed 30 July 2016, <;.

Matthew Doran is a political reporter in the ABC’s Parliament House bureau in Canberra. He is writing for ABC News Australia. A regular contributor, Doran usually reports on political issues, such as human rights, asylum seekers and indigenous rights. Having a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Journalism, I think Doran would be an expert in political issues. Doran has written about this topic before, as he focusses on primary political issues. The treatment of asylum seekers has been a central Australian political issue, the article reports on factual incidents, such as the Nauru’s Justice Minster’s statement, which other quotes, and scientific and statistical reports and references. There is a particular bias towards the need to do more over the mistreatment of asylum seekers by the Australian Government, as this article acknowledges that how asylum seekers have been represented by media as demoralising. I do agree with Doran’s perspective that asylum seekers have been misrepresented in media and may have a play with some Australian’s views on them, and their push on more humane and economical solutions to their processing.

5. What underlies public prejudice towards asylum seekers?

Pedersen, A. & Hartley, L. 2016, ‘What underlies public prejudice towards asylum seekers?’, The Conversation, 12 May, viewed 30 July 2016, <;.

Written by Anne Pedersen and Lisa Hartley. Pedersen is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University, and has been an asylum seeker advocate for over ten years. She teaches Human Rights education. Lisa Hartley is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Human Rights Education. The Australian People who have a prejudiced view against asylum seekers motivated these authors to write about this topic. They are both regular contributors and are passionate about human rights and asylum seekers. As they are both educational workers for human rights, they have written about this issue extensively before. For example, they both look at psychology as a factor. This article is both factual, with examples of real life situations and opinion based. There is a bias present for the better treatment of asylum seekers. I do agree with the author’s opinions; I think it is the same position as other others so it is a common stance/view.