Co-Design Symposium wrap up

Our colleague and PSIN member Hannah Mattner from the Department of Employment shares some experiences from the Co-Design Symposium:

The Co-Design Symposium in Melbourne brought together co-design practitioners, design academics and keen program and policy makers from Victoria and across Australia.

Co-Design Symposium - photos by Sam Rye

The day opened with a Welcome to Country by Gheran Steel, CEO of Boon Wurrung Foundation which grounded the entire symposium in an awareness of the people and the places that are part of our work. Professor Lisa Grocott, Head of the Department of Design at Monash, then wove this in with a discussion of design practice. She discussed the value of design in bringing experiential and experimental approaches together with interpretive and performative approaches in a way that creates contextually appropriate options for action that are tangible, possible, clear, and right for their context.

Co-Design Symposium - photos by Sam Rye

In the keynote address, Gene Bawden from Monash Uni gave an example of this approach, sharing his team’s work using material thinking to co-design an organisational vision for the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Centre. He demonstrated the way that his team’s very colourful design approach had helped build understanding and unify disparate community views, using the construction of a paper city to facilitate the discussion of less tangible challenges the community faced.

Sessions ranged from practical approaches to shifting and sharing power in co-design to ways to ensure a design vision is implemented. I personally found session by Jon Osbourne from Huddle really useful as a reminder of how quick and easy it is to apply common design tools like empathy mapping and communication frameworks to both internal and external work to share the user-centred work we do, as well as when we’re doing design itself.

A workshop at the Co-Design Symposium - photos by Sam Rye

The session by Emma Blomkamp from Policy Lab at University of Melbourne was also a huge success. She ran a packed room through a speed workshop on creating a ‘just enough’ evaluation plan for design projects, reminding us all that balance in evaluation (and evidence generally) means there should be “no numbers without stories, no stories without numbers”.

Stay tuned for more co-design capability-building opportunities coming to Canberra in the new year.

Thanks to Hannah for the write-up and thanks to Sam Rye for the photos. 

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