Post 10 —Reflection and Proposition

REFLECTION

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

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

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

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

CULTURAL FUSION FETIVAL PROPOSITION

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

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

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

collage
Variety of ethnic food stalls.
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Different kinds of foreign music.
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POST 8: Brainstorming Possibilities for a Design Response

by Jessica Avelina Horo

Finally, on this week I’m starting to see how my research and brainstorming process could lead me to. In one of the brainstorming process about the problem in the refugee issues, I have some kind of interest towards the one about refugees experiencing trauma in detention centre. I posted the map visualisation in Post 9, but I also put the map that I’m talking about below.

fullsizerender4

 

Problem Statement:

Taking some words from an article by Amnesty International,

(Sydney, 3 August, 2016)—“About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat”. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

It is so tragic that from my researches, I found that refugees and asylum seekers on detention centre have been held there for like three years and then be neglected by the health workers and other service provided who have been hired by the Australian government. Not only that, local Nauruans also gave them unpunished assaults. I couldn’t imagine how traumatic these experiences would be for the refugees. They crossed the sea, not knowing how their life gonna be, risking their family, leaving all they have behind and hoping for better future but all they received is these treatments. As we can see from the map that I drew in the class, I tried to break down how the experience would be for refugees and all the related stakeholders. This has to change now. Life is already really hard for refugees in detention centre,  and it is even harder after they got released to the community. People are having these strong attitudes to reject refugees coming to the community, it exist because of a lack of cultural understanding between both groups. If mutual acceptance and respect was found and maintained, perhaps there would be less conflicting perspectives.

From here, I want to see what I can do to prepare refugees and the community to live together harmoniously after such traumatic experiences. By clarifying my problem statement, I was able to gather all of my thoughts on the issue into a concise brief that I can address in the Task 3. All the refugees’ needs is a new LIFE, which I will break down to 4 design possibilities; Love, Impart, Fellowship and Empower and for the last one is about empathy.

5 Possibilities

1 Love

Amnesty International tried to break down people’s misconception about refugees:

  • Asylum seekers are not ‘illegal’ – it is a human right to seek asylum by boat in Australia (UN Refugee Convention and Australian Migration Act 1958)
  • The majority of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are found to be genuine refugees fleeing persecution, torture and violence.

(Our campaign for refugees and asylum seekers, 2016)

 

One of the problem that I found from this issue is because of a lack of cultural understanding between both groups. Both of them are lack of mutual acceptance and respect. There are enough border control to stop refugees coming into countries but is this the right way? People are having this misconceptions about refugees, Islamophobia, an exaggerated hostility toward Muslims and Islam, appear to be on the rise in both Europe and the United States. This too will happened to Australia if we don’t spread the love from now. Educate people how we can embrace multiculturalism without fighting each other. Hostile and politicised rhetoric only adds fuel to the fire of Islamophobia, we don’t need to add more. The world is too full of negativity already. It is written by law, as mentioned by Amnesty above, that asylum seekers are not ‘illegal’, they are genuinely come fleeing persecution and war.

One mother said: “When they go to school, the Nauruan children call our children ‘refugee,’ not by name. People have names. They say, ‘Why are you here? This is our country. You should leave. We don’t like you staying here.” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

Have we lose our humanity that we refuse to help people in need? They are facing rejection everywhere they go. This is the time to embrace them, spread the love and accept them by who they are.

2  Impart 

Give them opportunity to show their contribution to the Australian’s society and this could also give them an opportunity to start a career in a foreign career, where nobody knows them, and where they have to start from scratch.

3 Fellowship

Too many misunderstandings from what have been reported from the news, articles, photos but never from the person him/herself. So it would be great if we can have a chance to build a deeper relationship, to get to know refugee not from external sources but first-hand experience.  The result of this experience would be to break the myth that people have without checking the facts, clear the misunderstanding, embrace multiculturalism and know the refugees’ rights.

4 Empower

“…..almost 7,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean alone in the two years since the first big shipwreck in October 2013” (8 ways to solve the world refugee crisis, 2015)

“Nearly all interviewees reported mental health issues of some kind—high levels of anxiety, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and feelings of listlessness and despondency were most commonly mentioned—that they said began when they were transferred to Nauru”. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

“People here don’t have a real life. We are just surviving. We are dead souls in living bodies. We are just husks. We don’t have any hope or motivation” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

Refugees experience a lot of  trauma caused by the boat’s journey, uncertainty and mistreat in the detention centre and stress after they got released. Refugees also receive bullying in their school or workplace. In result they have identity issues, even after they are released into the community, people don’t see them as an individual, they see them as refugees. The refugees need some sort of empowerment; a centre that could empower them in terms of language, general knowledge about Australia, skills and psychology trauma.

5 Empathy

An asylum seeker described conditions while his wife was in labour:

“I saw my wife lying under the bed. The bed didn’t have a mattress. . . . I saw the nurse, an Australian nurse, playing on her tablet. My wife was crying. I said, ‘Please do something for my wife. This is like a jail, not a delivery room.’ The bathroom didn’t have tissue or hand washing liquid. I went out to buy hand washing liquid and rolls of tissue.” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

“Australia’s policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat is cruel in the extreme,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, who conducted the investigation on the island for the organisation. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

The Australian government may have failed to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate polity to deter further asylum seekers from arriving the country by boat. As mentioned by one of the refugees in the detention centre, they have been neglected by the health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government. Not only that, they also receive frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. Self-harm and suicide attempts are common in the detention centre, all these actions are in result of their uncertainty about their future, which Australian government has failed to manage. Apart from the negative news that have been spread around about refugees, there are still some Australians that are in the refugees’ side but they cannot express their empathy. We need an event or a platform to show our empathy to the refugees and by doing so also to raise awareness for general people. However, it would be hard to get people to participate as a lot of them have a negative attitude to this issue.

Proposal

My proposal is in respond to my last possibility listed above, which aims to get people and refugees in an big annual event. The concept is to have the event probably in places like Darling Harbour and it will be held annually because this issue have been there for years and the impact to the refugees’ emotion won’t be quick to heal. As we all know that refugees issue is a complicated case happened in many countries without having the real solution that could solve the issue. However, even though a lot of people are blinded by the misconceptions but there are still a lot of people who wants to say sorry to refugees. For people who wants to give sympathy to the refugees, they could stay together in this event to contribute something positive to the refugees or the refugees themselves could show their true side directly to the Australians.

This concept could result with people embracing refugees and changed their perceptions about them. Refugees also would feel appreciated and welcomed by the events that celebrates their presence in the community.

 

 

Reference List

8 ways to solve the world refugee crisis 2015, Amnesty.org. viewed 19 September 2016, <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/10/eight-solutions-world-refugee-crisis/&gt;.

Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru 2016, Amnestymedia. viewed 19 September 2016, <http://www.amnestymedia.org/story.asp?ID=TEQBR&title=Australia__Appalling_abuse__neglect_of_refugees_on_Nauru&language=English&gt;.

Our campaign for refugees and asylum seekers 2016, Amnesty Australia. viewed 19 September 2016, <http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/24019/&gt;.