Blog Post 10: Drafting my draft final proposal (draft)

Reflection & Proposal
In our last lesson I ran through the initial stages of my final proposal. With assistance from my classmates and tutor I managed to finalise a problem statement and the direction for my final project. I got positive feedback regarding my area of interest and have thus begun thinking about how to visualise the project. My issue is centred on promoting the voices of people in offshore detention, emphasising their narratives using original content from social media platforms and in turn, enforcing a sense of connection and tangibility to these narratives. To maintain a focus on the stories of people in offshore immigration centres, the piece will focus on language, in particular through unadulterated and self-directed refugee stories. I will contrast these stories with mainstream media narratives and official statements given by the Australian government. This lends itself to a generative printed project resolved using typographic detailing. It was suggested that I might want to use older projects from last year to influence my resolve, for example the book TL;DR. Using this idea of a publication design, I’ve furthered the resolve into a newspaper format, reinforcing notions of the media and how it influences public perception.

Revised Proposal

Project title: Voices in Manus

Practice type: Poetic Generative Data

Problem Statement:
Since the early 2000s, the Australian government and the media have politicised refugees and asylum seeker issues. Our government and legal system have engendered a societal complacency on these issues, through the introduction of mandatory offshore processing, an effective media blackout within the detention centres, and other measures that place the plight of refugees outside of the public spotlight. Our media, often depicting asylum seekers as ‘swarms’ and ‘masses’, has successfully alienated their experience from Australian society, to the point where the majority of Australians believe that they are unworthy of our help. If racist attitudes towards those seeking asylum aren’t challenged, these attitudes will continue to proliferate and become further normalised amongst a larger proportion of the community.

Possible change:
In my project I hope to shift public perception and attitudes towards refugee and asylum seekers by focusing on refugees’ subjectivity, recognising and acknowledging the sense of identity that has been robbed from them. To achieve this I will be exploring ways to visualise and compare the stories of people in offshore immigration detention with official statements and comments from prominent members of the Australian government, who have shaped this issue in the past few decades. The resolve will be in the form of a publication design. I will be exploring how to visualise key messages through various typographic techniques, and a range of materials. The power in this project lies in creating a sense of tangibility to the experiences of refugees, who are too often overlooked and sidelined. It therefore aims engage an audience that might otherwise be disinterested or disengaged from the issue.

Image Reference:
Wallman, S, A Guard’s Tale (2014)


Post 4: Do not feed the rumour

by Erland Howden

I chose to focus on this interesting service design project out of Portugal for a couple of reasons that are relevant to my broader research into the issue of asylum seekers and refugees.

First, my personal experience living in Germany during the peak of refugee arrivals towards the end of 2015. I met people who had fled Syria, read about attacks on refugee centres and homes by far-right groups and talked to people from different European countries about their respective approaches to the crisis. This sparked an interest in the different ways communities were dealing with “integration”, racism and introducing multiculturalism to hitherto fairly monocultural communities.

Second, my research so far had focused mostly on Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and social and psychological determinants of attitudes towards refugees. I wanted to reach beyond our shocking national situation to places where countries and communities are dealing with the growing number of asylum seekers in more humane and constructive ways – and what lessons could be learnt that might be applied to changing attitudes here in Australia.

Não alimente o rumor‘ (Do not feed the rumour) is a project by Amador City Council, a municipality on the outskirts of Portugal’s capital, Lisbon in partnership with the Council of Europe. Its goal is to challenge rumours and misconceptions about migrant communities, which make up about 10% of the local population (Council of Europe 2016). Visual communication design on the project was done by GBNT, a design and communication agency based in Lisbon. The project is research-led, beginning with surveys to identify prevailing stereotypes about migrants and followed up with analysis of how views had changed as the project progressed, facilitated by an academic team from the Centro de Investigação e Intervenção Social/Instituto Universitário de Lisboa. (European Commission 2016)

The project has been described as a communication campaign, but has aspects that place it within the service design sphere (Adams 2016). One of the most interesting aspects of the project’s implementation was the choice to train school students in the pilot phase as the key “anti-rumour agents”, so the design of the program is really about designing the process by which stereotypes about migrants and refugees could be broken down – identifying effective messengers for the target audience – i.e. peers; designing workshops that empower the “agents” with the information, skills and confidence to transmit the project’s key messages; and supporting the messengers to follow-through with their commitment. This approach demonstrates how emergent design practices can be significantly more engaged with their audience and sphere of operation than traditional approaches to a ‘communications campaign’ which might have just involved designing and placing advertisements.

The project has now moved beyond the pilot phase to a broader roll-out across the city, as well as being trialled in cities across Spain, Germany, Ireland, Greece and Poland. Demonstrating another aspect of service design, the project has also been turned into a guide by the Council of Europe, “Cities free of rumours: How to build an anti-rumour strategy in my city” (Baglai 2015).


Featured image: GBNT 2014, GBNT – Shaping Communication / Não Alimente o Rumor, GBNT, Lisbon, Portugal, viewed 21 August 2016, <>.

Council of Europe 2016, Amadora – Anti-rumour agents trained in Amadora’s school, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, viewed 21 August 2016, <>.

European Commission 2016, Do Not Feed the Rumor: How Amadora City Council is challenging stereotypes against immigrants, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium, viewed 21 August 2016, <>.

Adams, E. 2016, ‘‘Migrant crisis’: what can cities learn about new service design?’, URBACT, weblog, European Union, Paris, France, viewed 21 August 2016, <>.

Baglai, C. (ed.) 2015, Cities free of rumours: How to build an anti-rumour strategy in my city, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France, viewed 21 August 2016, <×21.pdf/c01ea15a-0195-494f-820f-00ada611f01f>.