TACSI social innovator Aunty Vickey Charles attends Service Design Global Conference in Canada

At the Service Design Global Conference in Canada on October 10-11, 2019, Aunty Vickey Charles, Cultural Connector and TACSI Social Innovator, will share her experiences and a developing set of mindsets and approaches that support Indigenous-led innovation in project work, based on our experience working with Aboriginal Australian communities.


30 September 2019


By the TACSI team

Innovation and co-design have a role to play in working towards equity

A big part of that includes taking a hard look at the effects of colonization, building bridges that restore power balances, and furthering self-determination.

Whether in project-based initiatives, designing services, policy-making, procuring work, or planning new strategies, furthering self-determination is essential, it can be tricky to navigate. While many parts of the world are still learning what this means for their practice, we can look to New Zealand and Canada who have longer track records of using genuine co-production to leverage complementary skills where solutions are self-determined by Indigenous nations.

In Australia, we’ve observed that some social innovation and design organisations have been afraid to, or don’t engage with Aboriginal Australian communities because there’s a fear of making mistakes or there is a surface level engagement where a lot of politeness and niceties are exchanged but Communities are left with a solution they don’t want or won’t use. As a result, too many communities are left to go at complex change alone.

Exploring a middle ground

We’ve observed designers around the world seeking a middle ground: a partnership space, a bridging opportunity, where design offers process and community leads. This means working toward a reconciliation of the design process that acknowledges that Indigenous people are the most researched group of people in the world. This means acknowledging that problem solving is something that Aboriginal Australian peoples have been doing sustainably for over 70,000 years.

At the conference, Aunty Vickey will share some approaches that we’ve found helpful in fostering meaningful bridges. These approaches are informed by learning and partnership with Aboriginal Australian people through case study design projects.

Most importantly, we acknowledge that we’re still learning too, especially from Indigenous partners and communities – we want to share and open the space for discussion with global design practitioners.

About Aunty Vickey

Aunty Vickey Charles is an Alawa/Mara woman from the Northern Territory who grew up in Adelaide from the age of 18 months due to policy at the time.

Aunty Vickey has worked across her lifetime to tell her story of the stolen generation and raise awareness of Aboriginal Australia through her work in the Not for Profit service delivery, Government sector, as a Cultural Competency Facilitator in SA and as our Aboriginal Lead; Aunty in Residence at TACSI.

If you’d like to talk to TACSI about our work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we’d love to have a chat

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