SydDT #80: Community-Based Design

SydDT #80: Community-Based Design

Thursday last week was SydDT #80: Community-Based Design. This one was in collaboration with our friends at SECNA and MCd by Zoe Gibson.

The team at ThinkPlace shared some of their experiences and insights from three projects where they took a community-based design approach… Lee Cooper and Jennifer McBride from a cultural and community hub project in Walgett, Bill Bannear from a project with lower-wage workers in Singapore, and Rohan Doherty from a project designing and delivering education and training services in Bougainville, PNG.

Kylie Mageropoulos then hosted a panel with plenty of great discussion and audience participation.

Kylie Flament, CEO of Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT (SECNA) gave us a brief overview of social enterprise and invited everyone to the Social Enterprise Festival on 27 May.

Susan Wolfe, co-chair of Interaction 24 gave an update on IxDA Sydney’s successful bid to host the annual global conference 25 February-1 March 2024. Grab your super early bird tickets now.

Victor Kay let us know about Dai Le MP/Senate Cost of Living Committee’s community forum at Warwick Farm on 21 April. More info and registration details here.

Couldn’t make it or just want to relive it? You can watch it now.

Thanks to everyone who came and made it another fun night… including the people who joined online. And a huge thanks to Michelle Cabanela and Brenton Kalisch from ThinkPlace for sponsoring. And thanks to the rest of the SydDT organising crew Zoe Gibson, Kylie Mageropoulos, Kate Linton, and Lucas Mara!

Finally, our next meetup is Thursday, 11 May SydDT #81: Establishing & Scaling a Kickass Innovation/Design Practice with Nathan Baird. Your ticket gets you the usual drinks, pizza, and networking… but also a copy of Nathan’s book Innovator’s Playbook: How to Create Great Products, Services & Experiences That Your Customers Will Love! (RRP $34.95), and a copy of his award winning digital Design Thinking Method Cards.

Meetup Announcement

Thursday, 13 April 2023 @ 6pm. ThinkPlace, Sydney

Let’s explore community-based design. We’ve also teamed up with our friends at SECNA for this one and look forward to welcoming the SECNA community. Thanks to ThinkPlace for hosting and sponsoring.

If you can’t make it in person, it’s free to join online from 6:30pm. Register here.

Community-based design is based on the principles of self-determination combined with the concept of co-design. Rather than having experts designing for people, the people design for themselves, with the assistance of expert facilitation and coordination.

We can leverage the creativity, context, depth, and breadth of knowledge held by communities to help to solve the problems they know best. Community-based design is light touch and high impact, designing for real people, not personas.

ThinkPlace will share lessons from three of their projects across the Asia Pacific region:

1. Regional NSW – Designing engagement ‘hubs’ to address education, employment, and social issues in Walgett, a remote town in NSW with a high Indigenous population.

2. Singapore – Designing a hybrid engagement for the Alliance for Action for Lower-Wage Workers (AfA for LWW) to support the development of prototypes and user testing, and launching ideas into action with 50 participants from various sectors over nine months.

3. Papua New Guinea – Designing and delivering a comprehensive entrepreneurship training program tailored to the unique needs of the Bougainville community, focusing on starting small enterprises in the primary industries of fishing, agriculture, cocoa and tourism, while addressing social problems.


Lee Cooper

Lee is passionate about the power of connecting human potential, innovation, and ingenuity to solve complex social challenges. With 25 years of experience working in social sector organisations and working closely with government, vocation and business sectors, he believes social good comes from the combined value of all sectors. Lee has contributed to actioned based research including From Surviving to Thriving (Dr Andrew Fuller), Managing Hybrid Enterprises Guidebook (UTS), Strengthening Australian Civil Society and Australia Cares (Sydney University).

Bill Bannear

As General Manager for Consortia, Coalitions and Ecosystems, Bill’s mission is to drive positive transformation at scale. He supports consortia and coalitions for design, innovation and change that are tackling issues in complex systems. He helps them to connect, find structures for effective working, and facilitates coherence, collaboration, momentum and results.

Prior to returning to Australia, Bill was the Managing Director of ThinkPlace Singapore. As a trusted design facilitator for the Singapore Government, he led foresighting on the future of Singapore as a virtual nation, and the redesign of social services and industry strategies.

Rohan Doherty

As General Manager for International Development, Rohan is passionate about creating real-world impact through genuine conversations with people that elicit deep insights and tangible outcomes. An experienced practitioner in human centred design applications, Rohan brings a deep experience in conducting and facilitating user research, understanding and collecting user insights and translating research outcomes into innovative solutions. He is also a skilled visual designer and communicator, whose deep understanding of the design process enables him to methodically work through complex, multifaceted problems.

Jen McBride

As an experienced user researcher, Jen is driven to understand the motivations and beliefs that drive our behaviours. She believes that through understanding the nuance in the human experience, we can design meaningful behavioural change: steering people toward behaviours that positively impact themselves, others, and the planet. Jen’s experience in qualitative research, both inside and outside government organisations, focuses on uncovering how we interact with complex systems and processes. Some of the clients she has worked with include the Department of Water and Environment, the Macular Disease Foundation of Australia, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and Service NSW.

Event Sponsor

Thanks to ThinkPlace for sponsoring this event.