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The Design Challenge

Day Six was a day of mental gymnastics, research, teamwork, collaboration and implementing all the tactics that the fellows have learnt and discussed over the course of the fellowship so far.  The challenge—set over 24 hours—is to come up with, agree and build a presentation around a new proposition that offers a solution or idea to improve the current uptake of engagement between Asylum Seekers and the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre’s Entrepreneurs Program.

Fellows working on the Design Challenge 

Fellows working on the Design Challenge 

Three teams were divided up, given a private work space at our fabulous new home for the next two days: The Library at The Dock located in Melbourne’s Docklands. The Un-School team provided sustenance, encouragement, occasional mental health services, Leyla jumped in on occasion to provide mentorship, provocation and a sounding board for the teams who spent the entire day between 9am and 10pm hard at work (with some teams continuing their work well into the night off-site).

Fellows working on the Design Challenge

We returned bright and early for our final day together—day 7—otherwise known as pitch day! Following practice pitch sessions with Leyla and Bec we were joined for the final pitches by Courtney, the acting Director of the ASRC Innovation Hub, Russel Kerr from the Communication Design faculty at RMIT and Jarrod Briffa co-founder of Melbourne cafe and social enterprise Kinfolk

Up first was Team 1 made up of Aimee, Bella Craig, Jane & Mim who proposed an intervention based around celebrating community by reimagining the ASRC current Entrepreneur Meet Ups to amplify exposure through a one-plus-one model—encouraging current members to invite one new person along to each event they attend and grow attendance and penetration that way—the Tumbleweed effect.

“simply a model of asking and doing"

Team 2, or ‘Team Hatch’—as they branded themselves—made up of Alexia, Erik, Gretchen, Jay & Jessie was next up to the plate.

“Hatch is not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen"

Hatch started off by sharing their research process of exploring the diversity of the asylum seeker community, and discovered a need for entrepreneurial incubators. Their proposed vision was to enable flexible community led programs using the 'Hatch model’ which works to combat three core problems: Positioning, Accessibility and Visibility, with the most urgent need identified as creating multiple entry points for asylum seekers.

Regarding the issue of scale— Hatch proposed 'going mobile’ and incorporating a mobile innovation hub into the ASRC to provide a flexible environment that is co-designed and community-led. The idea was inspired by case studies of socially engaged art projects (including the Nanny Van example from US) that can physically reach into places where communities are actually congregating. The mobile hub(s) can go in to co-create and co-design programs and events with local asylum seekers.

Team 3 pitching 

Team 3 pitching 

Our final group to present was Team 3, made up of Charlie, Chris, Fi, Koel & Sara who launched into a fast-paced and impassioned presentation that immediately shook up the initial brief. This proposal revolved around not bringing ‘help’ to asylum seekers, but rather creating a decentralised network, built from the inside out.

The team had spent a long time researching the project and recognised that no one apart from asylum seekers can understand the limitations and requirements of the entrepreneurial program—what asylum seekers are actually seeking from any interventions. They decided to propose a strategy of roadmaps using identified barriers to access to utilise and turn around to encourage community empowerment.

High density regions of asylum seeker communities were mapped. Travel issues between these communities and the ASRC were recognised and being severely limited. It was also shown that most of these zones are located in growth areas meaning that they are newer and generally car-centric with limited public transport and other community building amenities. Using this information on geographic limitations, they looked at the ASRC and their programs and how people find out about them.

The current upside-down funnel model of contact and access to programs was discarded and turned on it’s head by looking more broadly at how to organically shift the model to a more service-based economy centred around skills transfer and a share-based economy with money being obsolete in the scenario and creating a dual operating system alongside current financial models.

"Social connection can translate into skill sharing"

The judges expressed how impressed they were with what the teams had come up with in just 24 hours and provided a wealth of positive and constructive feedback. But a winner was still to be decided... 

The judging panel providng feedback

The judging panel providng feedback

In the meantime, as has become an Un-School tradition, all groups were asked to vote on their favourite pitch, with the peer reviewed winner being a tie between Team 2 (Hatch) and Team 3. 

Then came the panel’s feedback. And the decision was in—3rd place went to Team 1, 2nd place to Team 2 'Hatch', and in first place—Team 3! We thought they were all great, and we're extremely proud of the level of thought and integration of learning each team showed in their propositions so everyone went home with a prize! But the real reward was the celebratory glass of bubbles (at 11.45am!) and delicious treats that the team brought out after we had thanked our judges.

Celebrating with bubbles and yummy delights 

Celebrating with bubbles and yummy delights 

After we polished off a few bottles of bubbly, our assistant producer Simone, conducted a reflection session on each day, guiding the group through a distillation of all the crazy things that happened over the intense 7 day fellowship. Following this, the Fellows received back their own initial notes about their hopes for the week that they had written on the first day of the fellowship and then spent some time in pairs reflecting on what had been achieved and what could be worked on moving forward. 

In closing, we shared final statements as a group, to summarise a learning, thought or provocation from the week as well as what each of us might be taking away or putting into practice from the experience in the future.

There were many thanks and a shared gratefulness for the fellowship week and the opportunity to meet and connect with so many great like-minds (in the mentors, team and fellows). Connecting with others. The idea of play and having fun alongside more serious activism and social innovation were all themes of the week and reflection session. 

And then it was over—that was our close to the Melbourne Un-School Fellowship! We hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as we have, and don’t forget to keep up to date with future fellowship opportunities coming up all over the place in the very near future.

Our community of past fellows is growing into a formidable and creatively thriving network of inspirational people—don’t miss out on becoming a part of it!

Wrap photo—the full Un-School Melbourne Fellowship cohort and team!

Wrap photo—the full Un-School Melbourne Fellowship cohort and team!