Post 5: Interview / Splurge or Save / Housing Search

Interview — Housing Affordability

In my interview I endeavoured to find out how much my interviewee knew about housing affordability in Sydney. I uncover the interviewees plans and hopes for their future in regards to housing as well as finding out their opinions about foreign buyers and high density living.

A transcript of the interview is accessible here!

Probe 1 — splurge or save?

splurge or save? — a probe
splurge or save? — detail of probe

The first probe I designed is called ‘splurge or save?’. It is a small docket-style booklet that asks the user to document their expenses and income every day for a week. The aim of this probe is to understand the spending and saving habits of the user. In doing so, there is the potential to put into perspective how that particular user may maintain or adjust their habits to better save for their housing expenses.

This is a link to the blank probe booklet.

This is a link to the response I received.

I have visualised the response in the image below. What is important to note is that the user noted a $2000 expense for university fees. As this is a one-off large payment and not a weekly expense, I have presented it as a separate entity from the other everyday expenses in the top graph. The bottom graph only compares the income and everyday expenses to put into perspective how much the user spends and saves on average each week excluding any one-off expenses.

Splurge or Save Results
splurge or save? — a probe

Probe 2 — Housing Research

Housing Search — a survey
Looking to Rent — part of the ‘Housing Search’ survey

I was hoping to get a few people to fill in the ‘splurge or save?’ probe however I was advised against this as a lot of people feel uncomfortable disclosing their expenses and income. So I opted to create another probe that would be fun and less intrusive. I came up with a survey that asks people to consider whether they would rent or buy a property to live in. They are then asked a series of questions prior to conducting market research in order to gauge what their expectations are. I then ask them to see if they can find a property currently on the market that meets their expectations and to comment on their findings.

Ideally if I were to do this task again, I would ask a lot more people to participate in order to gather a larger data set. I would also try to establish a completely anonymous online probe similar to the ‘Splurge or Save’ income/expenses probe, so that more people would feel comfortable to participate and disclose their data.

Survey Responses:

Response 1 — Response 2 — Response 3 — Response 4 — Response 5


Conclusions — 5 Point Summary

1. It’s just not a priority.

My interviewee made it clear that moving out of home, whilst desirable, is not a priority for them. They are most excited to travel, “I mean ideally if I had like the kind of job that would earn me enough money, I would totally move out and like live by myself. But with the situation at the moment, it would just be travelling.” As a result, my interviewee has not been motivated to research or engage with the issue of housing affordability. Additionally, they have not started any budget or savings plan to assist them with renting or buying a property in the future.

2. One day…

My interviewee explained that whilst they wouldn’t mind high density living as an affordable option, they do hope to buy a detached house one day. The thought of having to raise a family in an apartment bothered them greatly. “That would be struggle street man. Isn’t that how they live in Hong Kong and China? They have an issue with space, and they have all these high-rises of apartment blocks, and these apartment blocks, they’re so tiny…It would suck especially if you have a family.” Often dubbed the Great Australian Dream, home ownership and having a backyard is an ideal for raising kids, “I’d like them to have the experience of having the space to do things.”

3. Majority Rules Rents!

My interviewee explained that when they first move out of home in the near future, given the increasingly high property prices, renting would be the way to go. “I feel like that amount of money, I think above at least $400,000 or even $200,000, that seems like an impossible amount for me at this stage only just because I’m still a student trying to find a job and whatever. So renting would be more of like a thing I’m thinking about.”

The response to the ‘splurge or save?’ probe, shows that the user saved $387.85 during the week that the probe was conducted. If they were to save for a $200,000 home it would take them approximately 10 years to accumulate that sum. Of course there are a multitude of factors that can affect this calculation. For example, they may enter the workforce and earn a higher income or they may receive financial assistance from their family or the bank. Based on the data provided however, it appears that renting would be a more viable option for the user at this current stage of their life.

It is interesting to note that in the Housing Research survey, 4 out of 5 respondents said they would rent rather than buy. It is important to note however that they are all students 20-21 years of age. The only respondent who was interested in buying is 26 and in the workforce. This may be because the 26 year old has had a few more years to save and budget to buy a property.

4. Two is better than one

3 out of 5 respondents stated that they would be looking to move in with a partner to share the total costs of buying or renting a property. By sharing a bedroom, couples can save money by only needing a one bedroom property and splitting the costs. One respondent said they would live in a share house if living by themselves was too expensive.

5. Not far = No car!

All 5 survey respondents said that they would want to live near public transport and/or near shops. In doing so, there is less need for a car, which can be expensive to buy and maintain. At the same time, 4 of those respondents said they would prefer their property to also have parking spaces. Perhaps this is because although they would prefer to use public transport as it is generally less expensive than driving a car, having a car can be convenient if travelling to places not serviced by public transport.


Primary Research & Public Perception

 Post 5 By Alice Stollery

Interview Objectives

Stigma and stereotyping have been recurring issues in secondary sources and the mainstream media throughout my research into homelessness. The societal shift towards technological dependence has also raised a number of concerns for those on the streets, as we create a digital divide, further marginalising the homeless.

With these positions in mind, I recently interviewed a university student to understand the relevance of these issues among the 18-24 year old age bracket. The primary objective of the interview process was to understand their attitudes towards the homeless and their circumstances, and to identify where stereotypes may have influenced their views and behaviours. By conducting an interview and establishing a design probe, I also hoped to ascertain the interviewees dependence on technology, such as their mobile phone and the internet, to ultimately identify areas where access to technology is a necessity for this age group. This would hopefully, in turn, allow me to understand where technology is failing the homeless, and in particular, homeless youth. My interview questions were limited and the interview was conducted more as a conversation to ensure the interviewee was relaxed and open in their response to the questions.


Throughout the interview process, I found that stereotypes were present in both their definition of homelessness as well as the perceived causes of homelessness. Interestingly, the invisible homeless were not accounted for within this person’s definition.

“Someone who doesn’t have a physical home to go to and a physical space to keep personal belongings. Those that are detached from society.”

This simplified definition of homelessness exposed the shallow understanding many people have of the issue. The invisible homeless do not enter our thoughts and we do not consider that the homeless may well be active members of society, working or studying full time, yet living out of the boot of their car or sleeping on a friends couch. By describing homelessness in this way, we almost detach ourselves from it, thinking that homelessness affects those that make poor life choices or who come from difficult backgrounds.

This simplified definition of homelessness may also be due to my lack of interview skills and the time frame in which the interview was conducted. Perhaps with more time and more probing, the interviewee could have established a more comprehensive understanding and definition of the issue. To improve for next time, I would perhaps break down this question into multiple questions as it is difficult to provide a complete overview of a complex issue in a single answer.

Feelings towards helping the homeless

The interview was also used to ascertain the interviewee’s feelings towards helping those in need. Seeing the numbers of people, myself included, walk past the homeless each day, I have always thought that a possible solution could sit within the actions of the passers by. I wanted to know the reasons why people chose not to help them, whether it was a case of not knowing how or whether there was less desire to help them due to a lack of empathy as a result of desensitisation or stigma. The interviewee stated that she was aware of the homeless, yet did not take much notice of them. Confirming the latter of my hypothesis. When walking past them, she realised that she pays more attention to their belongings and the items they keep, rather than focusing on them or their situation. She did not have any particular feelings when seeing them and due to this lack of empathy for them, felt that she had been desensitised to the issue.

Perceived causes of homelessness

When asked, the interviewee attributed the causes of homelessness to unfortunate circumstances and financial difficulty such as keeping up with rent or mortgage payments. She stated that she was aware that a number of homeless people had jobs and in this situation contributed possible causes to reckless or irresponsible spending and differing priorities from those not affected by homelessness. When asked if she had ever considered helping the homeless and if so what barriers she faced or what stopped her from doing so, she stated that not knowing how to help them played a large role in her reasons for choosing not to help them.

“When I walk past, of course I consider helping them but I don’t now how to help without contributing to the problem. Not knowing their situation and how to help them is the biggest barrier.”

This implies that people would be more willing to help or donate to the homeless if they were aware of the circumstances that lead them to be homeless. When asked about the challenges the homeless face, the interviewee listed social stigma and overcoming societies perception of them. I was intrigued by the fact that the interviewee was aware enough of this stigma to list it as a challenge yet not enough to challenge her own views of them.

The role of technology

Moving onto the role technology plays in her life, I asked the interviewee what daily challenges she might face if she did not have access to a mobile or internet technology. These included, waking up on time for commitments as she uses the alarm on her phone, emergencies, lack of ability to contact and stay in touch with friends and family and limited or no access to her uni work or online resources needed to complete her degree.

Design Probe

As the answer to this question did not give a comprehensive insight into the necessity of technology within her life, I asked the interviewee to complete a design probe over the course of the following week.

She was asked to document the role her mobile or internet plays in her life, including her fundamental and vital uses of technology during that period. Whenever she relied on her mobile or internet for work, socialising or emergencies,to name a few, she was asked to take note and record them. In designing this task, I hoped to identify situations when she would not have been able to complete the task without mobile or Internet technology.

A Visualisation of the interviewee’s design probe results. The larger circles act as clocks. Each use of technology has been plotted on the clock to show the time of day for each of the interactions. Each smaller circle is roughly 5 minutes in time.

The design probe results have been visualised above. They depict that for the 18-24 age bracket, mobile and internet technology are primarily used to maintain relationships with friends and family as throughout the week the interviewee spent 4.5 hours on Instagram, 3 hours on Facebook, 1.5 hours checking her email, 15 minutes looking up transport timetables and 1 hour making important phone calls. I was quite surprised by these results as they differed from my expectations. I would have placed more importance on calls or transport information rather than instagram, however this may be due to the particular week in which the design probe was completed.

These results are a good introduction to the issue, however, I would need to interview a number of participants in order to gauge an accurate indication of the primary uses of technology within this age bracket. As the interviewee also pointed out, this just so happened to be a week where she did not need to make any emergency phone calls, and other important phone calls were kept to a minimum.

Five Key Insights
  • The role of technology in the lives of youth may differ considerably from older age brackets, with significance placed on maintaining relationships and social connections through social media. Youth also do not make a lot of phone calls, which places more importance on online interaction.
  • I found that stereotypes were present in both the interviewees definition of homelessness as well as the perceived causes of homelessness as the invisible homeless were not considered within their definition of the issue.
  • There is evidence of a shallow understanding of the complexity of homelessness as well as an indifference towards those suffering form homelessness. This issue is not at the forefront of peoples minds and due to desensitisation and stigma surrounding their circumstances, people may not have empathy towards those suffering from homelessness.
  • People are less likely to help the homeless without knowing their background or situation. The causes of homelessness from a youths perspective include unfortunate circumstances and financial difficulty such as keeping up with rent or mortgage payments, reckless or irresponsible spending and differing priorities from those not affected by homelessness.
  • Social stigma and overcoming societies perception of them is considered a barrier for the homeless to overcome.

Post 5: Design-led Ethnography

Most LGBT youth find it difficult to express and explore their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is caused by various challenges they face from the way society respond to their orientation and identity. In 2011 a report by Institute of Medicine found that ‘the disparities in both mental and physical health that are seen between LGBT and heterosexual and non-gender-variant youth are influenced largely by their experiences of stigma and discrimination during the development of their sexual orientation and gender identity.’ In this primary research I’ve decided to explore society’s perception of LGBT youth and their understanding of what they might believe that contributes negative experience towards LGBT youth. Furthermore I wanted to discover how society believes they can shift these environmental challenges.

At the start of the interview general discrimination questions were asked to gain insight of their experience with any sort of discrimination they might have faced. Later on the interview turned into a discussion on discrimination towards LGBT youth and how we can reduce this discrimination. In the interview the interviewee expressed that they have experienced racial discrimination and they believe that any minority will come across discrimination at least one point in their life. The way they handled discrimination was to simply brush it off.

“The minority in this world will always come across some sort of discrimination during their life. But it goes to show how ill educated our world is…”

The interviewee believes our current society is slowly becoming more accepting however there is still a long way to go, especially for the LGBT Youth. They believe LGBT youth would have it harder compared to any other minority because of the unwanted response they might face even from their loved ones like their family and friends. As the interview went on about the struggles LGBT youth face everyday it led on to discussion about how might we make it easier for them to come out. I asked the interviewee if they were ever taught on sexuality during school. “Never” they said. They explain how our education system should be more inclusive and improve on LGBT awareness. “I feel like if they talk about it or learn about it the there will be more awareness of discrimination. Students should get educated about these issues regardless to avoid any harassment and discrimination from occurring from young age.” When I asked if the interviewee knew about safe schools coalition they had no idea of it. As I explained to the interviewee what it was they were frustrated at why it wasn’t made more aware to us.


Following the insightful interview I generated a probe targeting two different age groups. The probe is a survey looking into individual’s perception on LGBT youth and ideas on how they might constitute to reducing challenges for LGBT youth from coming out.

probe 1 survey

  1. The aim of surveying High school students was to increase my understanding of how the same age as my chosen issue viewed LGBT youth.

The following survey questions allowed me to gain insightful understanding of teenager’s attitude towards LGBT youth.

  • Do you know any LGBT youth yourself? If so, how do you interact with them?
  • How do you feel towards LGBT youth?
  • Do you think they’re any different to regular students? How do you treat them?
  • Do you think our society is accepting them well?
  • Why do you think a lot of LGBT Youth are afraid of coming out?

Many of the participants knew or had a friend that identified themselves as homosexual and they strongly disagreed on perceiving them indifferently. All participants had no negative feelings towards LGBT youth. However they expressed that at although it may seem that there is no obvious discrimination towards LGBT youth on the surface a lot of student still tend to judge them behind their backs. The students believed that media played a major role in showing both positive and negative results in coming out publically. “Hate crimes are presented on the media like daily, causing LGBT youth from coming out. They are in fear of discrimination and even getting hurt. Then there’s also a positive reaction from the public on ‘lovey dovey’ posts on social media about being openly gay or lesbian.”

Highschool students were very respectful towards LGBT youth and displayed this through their understanding of them as a normal person. They demonstrated that they believe LGBT are not indifferent to normal people as they still behave like normal people in terms of the way behave towards other people. This positive survey allowed me to understand that today’s teens are very open towards wider community. However their unfamiliarity on safe schools programmes made it assert that schools are still ignorant towards teaching students about sexuality. The participants acknowledged that schools are still centred on heteronormative teachings and exemplified that subjects in highschool such as health only teach heterosexual intercourse.

  1. Young adults were the other age group that I’ve surveyed. I decided to survey this age group to understand how they might think they can constitute to decreasing the LGBT discrimination. I believe young adults in today’s society are more open change so I wanted to explore their ideas on how the society should act upon LGBT discrimination.

All participants in this age group strongly believed that sexuality education should be reinforced in Sex Education in school. They emphasized that they had no memory of being taught about LGBTIQ. “Sex Ed in school was all about going through puberty, human reproduction, STD and aids. Nothing about sexual orientation.” From this finding it was clear that schools were only sourcing information on heterosexual safe sex and relationships. This demonstrated that schools played a big role in creating this conservative message about heterosexual sex and danger being the norm. The participants believed that raising positive roles models and information about LGBT in schools could’ve reduced the challenges.

After the survey I have asked a participant from each age group to document all source of information they have come across that could be identified as LGBT support, homophobia or LGBT discrimination. They were asked to note what source it was from e.g; social media, street poster, word of mouth or community discussion then describe how they felt towards the source weather it was a positive or negative perspective on LGBT in one sentence.

probe 2.jpg

The chart shows lists of sources identified by the participant from each age group. The list has been separated into positive and negative association on LGBT. Both participants found more sources that were positively associated LGBT issue. This finding reassured that our society has decreased discriminatory attitude towards LGBTIQ and surprisingly more understanding about homophobia and discrimination. The participants in this research came across LGBT information mainly from non-traditional sources such as social media, Internet, friends, magazine, movies and street posters. It was clear that this information was becoming widely accessible but still less exposed in traditional sources such as school and family. I personally expected to see some traditional sources coming from my high school participant. Both participants felt that the negative sources they came across were unnecessary and ignorant.

documentation probe

In this research I would’ve liked to gain insight from LGBT youth’s perspective towards the society. It could’ve opened up my understanding on multiple layers of identity that impact LGBT youth’s lives such as gaining knowledge of how they cope or handle living in our current society. I believe the research could’ve been more comprehensive if I had gotten wider public’s understanding of LGBTIQ.

  • In this research all most 99% of my participants did not know the safe schools coalition. I wasn’t sure weather because they didn’t care about the policy because they weren’t LGBT. Nevertheless I came to conclusion that same schools program should have been made more aware to wider public.
  • Most schools already have anti-violence and racism policies but not so much in anti-LGBT abuse and harassment. Although they promote equality in schools they do not make LGBT discrimination a relevant issue.
  • The research demonstrated that LGBT harassments are less aggressive these days. Young people are incredibly supportive of their fellow LGBT from coming out.
  • It was interesting to find out that young people were light hearted towards LGBT community. They believe that sexual orientation and gender identity is a normal process and expression in today’s society.
  • Although young people expressed their openness towards LGBT community they emphasised that it was the older generation that remained stigmatised towards all sexualities other than heterosexual, which influenced LGBT youth from coming out.


By April Bae

05 – Ethnographic Research

Mental health is a vastly broad topic that not only has such significant impacts upon society but whose complexity is not yet entirely understood by the medical community. In order to gain a more holistic understanding of the ‘real world’ presence of and dialogue around mental health this stage focused on two forms of design-led ethnographic research.

Semi-Structured Interview

Never having had researched mental health and its implications on the individual and community, my interviewee’s responses were based off their perceptions and opinions around the issue. Often beginning or ending a statement with ‘I guess’ conveyed their reluctance to proclaim any statement as fact. When discussing the relevance of mental health issues for our age group, 18-25 year olds, they mentioned statistics stating our age group is affected the most by mental health issues. However, when prompted they could not recall where they’d sourced such a figure. I found it interesting to consider how many ‘facts’ we as individuals and as a larger society ‘know’ about mental health without actually being able to state their source.

“I think it has a very great impact on our age group. Mostly, I guess, because I know of statistics of our age group, just coming out of adolescence, that kind of thing, it really I guess effects us most. … No, I don’t know exactly where [I got those statistics from] but I guess it’s something I read somewhere.” [Interviewee response to question of impact of mental health on age group 18-25 year old]

Continue reading “05 – Ethnographic Research”

Post 5: Interviewing, and probing deeper

Molly Grover

In order to gain an understanding of the concerns and perspectives held by the 18-25 year old age bracket surrounding the topic of refugees and asylum seekers, I developed an exercise in design-led ethnography.

With the help of a 23 year old participant, I designed and conducted a semi-structured interview and take-home probe task, with the hope of further contextualizing the chosen issue through the lens of my peers.

Part 1: Interview

Referring to the earlier mapping exercise, I used my previously identified human and non-human participants as a guide for what might concern the 18-25 year old age group.

Using mapping once again, I developed a set of interview questions that drew upon the topics of human rights, media sentiment, cultural assimilation, population, infrastructure and safety.

Mapping the likely concerns of 18-25 year olds regarding the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. Copyright 2106 Molly Grover all rights reserved.

Interview Questions

Finalised list of questions for the semi-structured interview.

After settling on these five questions, I conducted a short interview with a 23 year old peer. The semi-structured nature of the interview allowed the conversation to flow freely, with my lines of questioning being influenced and directed by the responses of the participant’s answers. This resulted in an engaging and interesting dialogue, rather than a rigid and awkward experience.

After recording and transcribing the interview, I used mapping once again to summarise the key ideas communicated by the participant.

Mapping the key results from the semi-structured interview. Copyright 2016 Molly Grover all rights reserved.


Firstly, when asked to explain his opinion regarding the morality of asylum seeker detention, the participant decide to answer the question in two parts, dealing first with the offshore location of detention, and secondly with its indefinite nature.

Referencing the recent leakage of reports from within Nauru, the participant expressed his dissatisfaction with not only the inhumanity of the conditions of detention, but also the offshore placement of the camps, insightfully commenting on the lack of accountability bred by the physical distance and lack of media coverage.

Bringing to my attention the resulting ability of the Australian public to turn a blind eye, the participant then moved to a discussion surrounding the length of detention.

Describing the indefinite nature of current processing as ‘inhumane’, he expressed the need for more rapid decision-making, in order to avoid adding more stress and uncertainty to the already traumatised state of those who have recently fled their country.

Upon discussing his concerns regarding an increased intake and settlement of refugees in Australia, the participant made another interesting point, noting that the coming together of two different cultural groups will always be risky, no matter the social, temporal or geographical context.

Expressing the need to see refugees as individuals, rather than applying categorical assumptions, the participant highlighted the contradictory nature of those in politics who claim that refugees are both inherently lazy, and stealing our jobs.

Interestingly, he did not express concern at the prospect of jobs being taken by refugees, rather stating that if refugees were prepared to work harder than Australians, then perhaps they should very well have our jobs.

Contrasting with the opinions expressed by public figures such as Pauline Hanson and Sonia Kruger, the participant did not agree with the correlation made between Muslim immigration and terrorism, once again stating that no categorical danger could be applied to either all refugees or all Muslims, just as none can be applied to all Australian residents.

Using an interesting metaphor, the participant equated the probability of a terrorist presence within a group of Muslim immigrants to the probability of a presence of LGBTI hate-preachers within a group of Christian immigrants.

He noted that the vast majority of Muslims are not ISIS affiliated, suggesting that terror is caused by anomalous splinter groups, and thus cannot be attached to the religion of Islam as a whole.

When asked about the opinions of his peers, the participant noted that most within his community of friends had at some point expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s current system of dealing with refugee and asylum seeker flows.

Observing that many of his friends want change in the form of an increased refugee intake, he explained that some have even taken political action, attending peaceful protests and campaigns to such an end.

In contrast to his friends however, the participant expressed no future plans to take part in political action, due to his belief that the Australian government is not truly representative of the desires of its people.

He does not see political action as effectual or worthwhile, due to similarity of the both major parties’ policies for refugees and asylum seekers.

However, the participant did express his willingness to support those refugees who have been allowed into Australia, describing his involvement with a church-led campaign to gather and distribute groceries to recently settled refugees in his local community.

Summarising his own sense of responsibility towards the issue, he noted that he felt it was his duty to help those who are already here (in Australia), but not to take political action for those who are not.

When asked for his opinion regarding the media’s representation of the issue, the participant noted that he does not watch television or listen to the radio often, citing his main sources of information as social media and his own online research.

From his exposure to these sources, he noted that whilst the majority supported an increased refugee intake in Australia, there were also many public figures that did not, making the scope of positions expressed by the media extremely varied.

Part 2: Probe

In order to delve further into the experiences and perspectives of the participant, I designed a simple take-home activity to be undertaken over the course of a week.

Aiming to gain insight into the range of sources engaged in by 18-25 year olds, I asked my participant to take note of every time he noticed the issue of refugees or asylum seekers mentioned in a piece of media, using iPhone photography and screenshots to make a record of all such encounters.

The probe task given to the participant. Copyright 2016 Molly Grover all rights reserved.


Upon consulting the participant at the conclusion of the task, I was disappointed to discover that he had not encountered any media sources for the entire week of the probe exercise. As a result, no screenshots, photographs or notes existed for analysis.

Reflecting initially on this result, I concluded that the task was undoubtedly a failure and must have been poorly designed on my part.

Perhaps focusing on a specific media source would have improved the outcome. For example, please spend 2 minutes per day scrolling through your Facebook feed, taking screenshots of any mention of refugees or asylum seekers.

This specific directive would have ruled out the possibility of neglecting to engage with any media and thus not encountering any sentiment surrounding the issue.

Furthermore, the probe could have been improved by sending a few regular (but not intrusive) reminders to the participant to keep their eyes open for mentions of the issue. For an example, a simple Facebook message in the middle of the week could read ‘Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled today!’ or similar.

This would rule out the possibility of forgetting to actually focus on the issue whilst engaging with day-to-day media sources.

On the converse, however, it could be argued that the probe was actually a success in revealing the low level of the participant’s day-to-day exposure to the refugee and asylum seeker issue.

The lack of encounters with the topic in a normal week of undirected media use reflects and reveals the social context of the participant, as well as his own browsing habits.

Aligning with the results of the interview, in which the participant noted that he did not regularly engage with traditional media sources such as television, radio and newspapers, the probe suggests that although the participant has well-formed opinions on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, he is not regularly engaging in a political dialogue regarding the issue.

5 Point Summary

From the results of both the interview and the probe, a few key insights can be drawn:

  1. The participant and his peers share a unanimous position on the inhumanity of indefinite offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers.
  2. The participant believes that the physical distance of the offshore camps has led to a lack of accountability from the Australian government and ignorance amongst the Australian public.
  3. Whilst possibly not being regularly exposed to the issue through traditional media sources, Australians in the 18-25 year old age bracket seem to be educated and passionate about taking action around the issue of offshore detention and asylum.
  4. The participant believes that asylum seekers need to be assessed and viewed as individuals, as the assumption of a categorical danger or threat is inaccurate, unfair and illogical.
  5. Whilst the participant is passionate and well-informed about the issue of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, he is not exposed to regular dialogue or sentiment regarding the issue in his everyday life.

Post 5: An Individual’s Perspective

Post 5: Approaches to design for change, design-led ethnography
Christine Ye


After reading online articles and academic papers by individuals heavily involved in or immersed in the issue of housing affordability, it was interesting to gain insight into someone else’s perspective, and especially someone who wasn’t born and raised in Australia. The questions I asked aimed to gauge her level of understanding on the topic along with her assumptions, observations, experiences and personal thoughts.

One surprising opinion I gained from the interviewee was that she thought it was actually quite easy to gain access to a bank loan in order to purchase your own home; this is something that isn’t common through reading articles, which generally pitch the housing situation to be quite dire and difficult to get into for the millennial generation. However one article which I read and analysed in blog post 1 seems to reflect the same idea, that it isn’t that hard to get your foot into the door of the housing market. Without even realising, the interviewee and her friends have a joint-ownership on their property in terms of pooling together funds, which makes owning a house much more affordable.

The transcript of the interview can be read below:

What are your impressions of the housing situation in Australia?
I’ve heard the term before but I don’t know much about it. What I hear is that there are too many people coming into Australia, and that we don’t have enough houses for them so the price of houses go up. Whenever there is a sale, things are sold out quickly.

What is your current housing situation?
Currently I live in an apartment in the city. It’s a three bedroom apartment that I’m renting from a friend, and I also share it with three other friends. We split rent.

Do you feel a strong need to become a home owner in the next five years?
I think in the end, within the next five years, I’ll have to find a house. I think it’s better to live in one, somewhere not too far from the city, but a nicer environment that is not so busy. I feel it’s more stable to buy a house rather than an apartment, and rather than paying rent each month.

Are there any expectations you have of your first house?
I’m still an international student and don’t know much about the situation in each suburb…but I’d want a location that is close to a supermarket, restaurants and shopping centres. Maybe like Parramatta. Definitely not Chatswood though because I heard it’s so much more expensive. Blacktown could be good too because most of my friends live there.

Do many of your friends own a house?
My friends tell me that it’s actually quite easy to purchase a house here, as long as you have a job and you just borrow a bit of money from the bank. But he told me that the debt won’t be payed off for thirty years, that aside, I understand it is quite easy but that’s maybe from an international perspective.

What suburbs do they buy into and why?
Most of my friends live in Glenfield, it’s quite far from the city but it’s cheap there. They all live together to pool funds. One of my friends are planning to buy a newly built house in Blacktown…I heard it’s not too safe of an area but they opened some really awesome luxury houses within a big park that used to be a golf course. However I think you need a car to buy that car, and that the cheaper price difference is due to the distance from the city. Most of my friends in Glenfield live quite far from the station so they end up having to buy a car. The bus station is far too so they don’t have much of a solution.

In terms of what you understand, are there any solutions that come to mind when it comes to housing affordability?
I don’t really know the main problems in housing affordability, but I think it’s maybe the government that doesn’t manage the housing so well. They should come up with a policy to limit the international buyers who don’t even live in the property, or maybe they can build more houses. The government makes it easy to invest.


The probe I constructed for my interviewee required her to ask different people she knew in the 18-25 age range a set of questions on their age, occupation, where they currently live, where they’d want to live and why, and how close these suburbs were to Sydney CBD. The aim of my probe was to gauge a general opinion on why they’d want to live in a particular area. The results are shown below:


A few general things I noted from the probe were that all participants would like to live within the 20km radius of Sydney CBD, but none of them wanted to live in the actual heart of the city for preference of a little more personal space. While nobody mentioned anything to do with how much the average property in the area would cost and if that was an issue, they prefer locations which are convenient in terms of travelling time and suburbs close to shopping districts which generally mean a higher average house price.

Just like with the interview, the probe itself provided insight into a group of people’s preferences which allowed me to make some general assumptions of the cohort. However in terms of where my interests lie, I feel like I should have included questions which evoke a more emotional response, possibly asking participants to rate their satisfaction of the suburb on a scale which can later be expressed in a more engaging visual way. As a probe, it was a quick and easy task for the interviewee to do, however the questions lacked depth and I didn’t gain any extremely surprising responses.

Five Point Summary

  1. Majority of people interviewed in the probe wanted to live within a 20km radius of the city.
  2. Convenience in terms of transport times and vicinity to essential services such as supermarkets was a big factor in choosing where people wanted to live.
  3. Even though my interviewee wasn’t highly knowledgeable on the topic of housing affordability, she showed awareness of how to make it easier when it comes to lessening the financial burden of owning a house.
  4. In relation to my academic sources, possibly the above point does raise a deeply imbedded attitude issue in Generation Y.
  5. When it comes to probes in the future, think up more provoking questions that will allow me to gauge a deeper understanding of how people feel.

How Do Others View Climate Change?

The issue of climate change is no doubt one of much debate and coverage in today’s media, and is one that is a source of constant worry and realisation for me personally. Perhaps it is because of my own interest in this issue that I am overly aware of news articles and commentaries surrounding it, so much so that it seems I have dangerously fallen into a bubble where I assume other people are on the same wavelength as I am. In order to gain an understanding of how others view this social issue, and to foreshadow a design response to climate change that will come in the future, I conducted an interview and probe with a fellow classmate.

The Interview

This interview consisted of several broad questions about things the interviewee may have noticed in the news and their general response to climate change. When asked if they undertake any activities in an effort to contribute to the slowing down of climate change, their answer was that individually, they don’t feel like they can make much of a difference. Morally, of course, they do feel some obligation to help out, but they feel that there are so many barriers to being environmentally friendly. In particular, the message that really stuck with me was the response that the interviewee’s way of living is really dependent on their household. The products used, what they eat, where they shop and how they live are determined by their family, and thus, the interviewee—not being the main authority of the household—does not feel like they have much control or say in the matter.

The Probe

This statement was really quite eye–opening, as I never considered how much a person’s current situation could affect the environmental practices they adopt. In response to this realisation, I designed a probe to give to my interviewee, in order to gain a better understanding of where they stood in their household. I asked the interviewee to record everything they bought over six days to gain insight into this. The results are given below:


Details of items the interviewee bought over six days



A visual breakdown of areas money was spent


What’s evident from this probe is that the interviewee was indeed stating that they do not contribute to household decisions in any way; their expenses over the past six days was for their immediate personal use. In terms of making environmental decisions, they did choose to buy recycled paper, but opportunities like these are quite limited. This perhaps echoes the situations of many young adults as well, although more probes will need to be given to a wider range of people to support this.


While this probe did reveal the way a young adult lives and how much control they had over making environmental decisions, it did not really give much rich insight into their response to climate change, or even relate back to the issue that much. The probe task set was too focused on the idea that the interviewee felt like they had no authority to make decisions in their household, instead of finding ways of revealing differing perspectives of climate change, human impacts on biodiversity and how that can be utilised to make a design solution. Indeed, my probe related in no way to my research into the ways wildlife are being affected by humans. A probe designed with a more environmentally and wildlife focused task would perhaps have revealed deeper information.

Post 5: First hand research

By Olivia Tseu-Tjoa

In previous weeks, I have been solely looking at secondary sources for research; from news articles, scholarly articles and online images. With the demographic outlined to be aged between 18-24, the interview and design probe was a chance for me to gauge our target audience’s awareness of asylum seekers and refugees on a first hand basis.

The interview

I wanted to have an informal and semi structured interview with a peer. My few planned questions were:

  • What is your opinion on how Australia treats refugees?
  • What are your views on how politicians and the government talks about refugees?
  • Can you list 5 words that you associate with refugees?
  • Where have you learnt about refugees? From what platforms e.g social media?

It was important to actively listen and engage with the interviewee, rather than just read off a list of questions. She did have a general awareness of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, but not the specifics. For example, she acknowledged that women and children faced particular abuse. She admitted that she wasn’t aware of how Australian politicians talked about asylum seekers. I had asked her if she could list at least five words associated with the topic but she was slightly confused and was unable to. When asked about where she hears about news relating to asylum seekers, she listed the Daily Telegraph. She mentioned that she hadn’t come across news relating to refugees on social media. I enquired about whether she was aware of any countries asylum seekers originate from and she could only mention Syria. Later on, I brought up recent events, such as the release of the Nauru Files but she had not heard about it and was unsure about what it was.

When asked whether she could list any public figures associated with the topic, interestingly, she mentioned Pauline Hanson and Sonia Kruger. I believe that this association stems from the recent controversy of their comments and calls for bans on Muslim immigration in Australia (although not directly about asylum seekers). The interviewee’s link between Islamophobia and refugees is an interesting point.

As the interview went on, I found it difficult to prolong it and come up with open-ended questions on the spot. I often came up with close ended ‘yes/no’ questions which didn’t really facilitate the conversation. At times, the answers were somewhat limited so I found it challenging to draw out more information. However, it should be noted that the interviewee’s perhaps limited awareness of the issue is perfectly understandable. It provides insight on how peers my age may have a broad understanding and empathy for asylum seekers, but do not feel motivated or interested to pursue the topic any further. In addition, they might not necessarily be engaged with the politics surrounding asylum seekers.

The design probe

My initial design probe task was:

‘Record any headlines you come across that relate to refugees and record where they came from.’ 

I was unsatisfied with this as I felt it was not specific and wouldn’t really learn much from this.

So, my modified design probe which I gave to the participant was:

‘Record any adjectives whenever you come across in news/online relating to refugees. Also record what was their source/where it came from.’

This task was designed to gain an understanding of the language relating to asylum seekers we come across in our everyday lives. I felt that the wording of this modified task question would yield results that are possibly more interesting.

The participant’s record of adjectives related to asylum seekers and refugees from news sources (Tseu-Tjoa 2016)

In the findings presented, it is evident that the participant encountered extremely ‘negative’ terms. They had divided the adjectives into three categories:

  1. Asylum seekers & refugees
  2. Australia’s stance
  3. Detention centres

While these words are negatively coded and are taken out of context, they appear to be a critique of Australia’s policies, rather than a negative framing of refugees. Phrases such as ‘horrific reality’, ‘high state of mental anguish’ and ‘sickening’ reveal the emotive language often used in the dialogue surrounding the issue. The participant looked at news sources like the Guardian, the Conversation, News Limited Australia, ABC News and 7 News. When I inquired how she came across these sources, the participant stated that for the majority of these findings, she had actively searched for the topic of refugees and asylum seekers on news sites. However, she also came across articles on Facebook when friends ‘Liked’ articles related to the issue.

Another design probe?

If I were to create another design probe, I would give the participant the task of documenting images they came across whenever they encountered topic of refugees in their everyday life. For the purposes of this task, the participant had actively sought out the issue through online articles and news outlets. What would the results be like if they had not actively searched it out? Also, I would have the participant look beyond online articles or the media and observe whether the issue of asylum seekers was featured in public areas or spaces. It could possibly reveal a more personal insight into their habits and encounters with the social issue at hand.

Take away points from the interview & design probe

  1. The participant had a general awareness of Australia’s treatment of refugees but not the specific details about topics such as the politics involved.
  2. Peers are exposed to news outlets that prominently critique and condemn the Australian government’s policies and treatment of refugees.
  3. The rhetoric and adjectives used in the current media landscape are highly emotive and impassioned.
  4. Functions on Facebook, such as ‘Liking’ articles expose people to news articles related to asylum seekers in their social media.
  5. Questions and design tasks need to be more specific to gain a more personal insight into their habits or experiences related to refugees.