The people who packed into the new Innovation Hub on the night of August 25 heard how the ASRC’s latest humanitarian programs empower people seeking asylum with the rallying call “change begins here”.
As the hub’s director Gavin Ackerly said, people seeking asylum “don’t need handouts, but a leg up”. Gavin says the old agency model is “failing” and that change will have to come from grassroots organisations such as the ASRC.
“The people who can really bring change are the … people in this room – the staff, the volunteers, the members and the public. The model of the hub is the first testing of this change,” Gavin said.
He described the Innovation Hub’s symbiotic innovation model as one of mutual reliance.
“People ask me – is it a collaborative model? I tell them, no. The term “collaboration” gives us the notion that we have a choice as an agency to collaborate with our clients or to decide not to. Symbiotic innovation says we must work together with our clients if we want to be true to our purpose. We rely on each other. We need the people seeking asylum to be part of this with us. Not because it sounds good, but because how can we expect to solve anyone’s challenges if they are not part of the process?” Gavin said.
“The dream was to create this space that’s not about being an asylum seeker, but about being everything else. Being an artist, a musician, an engineer … about what went before and what’s going to come and all those aspirations.”
Symbiotic innovation resonates with community engagement officer Michael, who is the first ASRC member to become an ASRC employee.
He told the audience that returning to a similar role to the one he did back home “has brought back life to me”.
“I don’t believe there is any development of an issue if you don’t engage the people who will benefit from the program,” Michael said.
“People seeking asylum who have benefited from the process can also give to the process … So we are not just here to take, we are also here to work together symbiotically. I believe Australia will change, given a chance.”
For more information about the work of the Innovation Hub, Courtney Green: firstname.lastname@example.org