Co-designing better outcomes with the South Sudanese Australian Community of Western Melbourne


  • The Australian Centre for Social Innovation
  • cohealth


The South Sudanese Australian Community is connected and resilient, strengths that can be amplified to improve outcomes. The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) supported the South Sudanese Australian Community (the Community) and cohealth to co-design services with the Community in Western metropolitan Melbourne, commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Local “Community Co-designers” researched, prototyped and designed four solutions with the Community, including cultural bridge and mentoring roles to connect Community to supports, creatives sharing positive messages, older and younger generations connecting over each other’s experience and a Community Lab that to advise government and Community.

Key Features


The commissioning, design and implementation of the co-design project was informed by a community development approach specific to South Sudanese refugees in Australia (Westoby, 2008).

Members of the Community informed the EOI and tender process, supported the recruitment of Co-designers and joined the Governance Group. Having a South Sudanese Australian majority on the team leveraged Community strengths and led to service solutions that do the same.

Now coming to a close, the project is in it’s transition stage where TACSI are stepping away from the work and supporting key members of the Community to move the project forward.


The four service solutions include South Sudanese Australian employment in the business model, amplifying key cultural and Community skills. Similarly, the project employed and built the capability of Community Co-designers, who bridge the gap between their Community and other stakeholders, build understanding and enhancing Community communication.

Five Community Co-designers worked with sixty six community members whose shared experiences and challenges lead to the four final concepts.

Generative research, design and prototyping addressed some barriers within the project itself – connecting younger and older generations while paper prototyping in a cafe and supporting the Communication design for a youth health event.


The project was described by the funder as “the first example of genuine co-design” they had seen, with the four service solutions demonstrating a different way to work toward better outcomes and results for community through generative co-design and collaboration. Building trust between stakeholders, government and the Community in an environment where the Community has been, and is still overscrutenised was key, and will have lasting effects.

Co-designers expressing their stories and experiences, and amplifying those of their Community, allowed key leaders and decision makers in all groups to better understand the South Sudanese Communities’ struggles, journey’s and stories.


The diversity of the sectors, people, cultures and disciplines that contributed to it backed by both pre-existing and new research was key to it’s success.

Importantly, the South Sudanese Community is already responding creatively to the challenges they’re facing, and supporting these innovations will lead to improved outcomes. This focus on the strengths of engagement and community highlights the importance and precedence for utilising co-design to build agency and design solutions that work.


Key features of Co-designing better outcomes with the South Sudanese Australian Community in Western metropolitan Melbourne include:

– Structured collaboration between Community, service providers and Government
– Co-design informed by community development approaches and by the South Sudanese Australian Community
– A strengths focus in the project and service solutions
– Generative research, design and prototyping
– Reaching unheard voices through Community networking

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