The Design + interactive + Green-tech Festival was held at Newcastle City Hall on the 16th and 17th of October this year. Here is a run-down of the highlights for Day 2 from my perspective. As a mental health researcher my main focus was the Mental Health stream. Little disappointed that no coffee, snacks or lunch was provided, but at least I was prepared for this for Day 2.
UPDATE: Conference presentations have been posted online by HIMH here.
Opening Session – Marketing speakers.
Constantine Georgiou spoke about self governance as a management principle, as opposed to the more traditional management styles *which* are more dictatorial. He spoke a little about the One Million Acts of Innovation group which is a community of executives and entrepreneurs trying to build a culture of innovation. Main force was that having the right culture in the workplace is more important that the right strategy.
Tim Rayner spoke about competing in a global market and the rise of collaboration as a business model, including movements such as Ouishare. Collaborative business models include the sharing (Uber), making (Etsy) and crowdfunding (Kickstarter) models. One particular venture he mentioned was NinjaBlocks, a company producing smart home products who have made their code open source to allow third party developers to produce compatible components.
Mid-morning Panel Session – Communicating about mental health
This panel session was all about the role that journalists and other communicators play in the responsible reporting of mental health issues in Australia.
Chris Wagner talked about the need to keep safety in communication whilst still adapting to the current speed of turnover within the media.
Sean Parnell spoke on the way that historically there was a large *divide* between the producers of media and the public, whereas now the media is part of the audience.
Other mentions during this session were about professional communicators in Australia, and how they generally have less of a filter than journalists when it comes to mental health related issues. One issue raised was with the increasing globalisation of news and media, how and why should Australian journalists filter news coming in from overseas. A difficult question, but reframing an issue for Australians through the relatively high integrity Australian media, providing local context and sensibilities is a worthwhile endeavour.
Late Morning Session – Reducing suicide through technology
Angela Mason talked about the history of Lifeline, a well established service that has an average of 100 crisis calls per day. They have been slow on the uptake with new service delivery possibilities, but they now have an online chat service.
Randal Newton-John from On the Line discussed the challenges in providing online counselling in a world that never sleeps. Services they run such as MensLine provide features such as talking to the same counsellor multiple times, on demand services, phone, online and video (Skype) counselling and more. They also have a service that is designed to work with your social media team to monitor sites after hours.
Lunch Session – Social media and suicide prevention
Jo Robinson from Orygen raised some of the concerns about possible bad uses of social media (suicide pacts for example) but this means that it is more important to be part of the technology, rather than ignoring it. One big trend with social media is that people are looking for peer support, which can be incredibly beneficial.
Jaelea Skehan discussed how one on one discussion can help and that poor media reporting can increase suicide risk. We can’t control how a message is received. Also discussed the differing responsibilities of a professional, the media and a layperson.
Michelle Blanchard stressed the possibility of contagion within social media and some roundtable recommendations to deal with this. One is to set a flexible responsive research agenda to build evidence in a way that attempts to keep up with the pace of change in this sector. Using this research to build best practice guidelines for media and other communicators, online moderators. The second recommendation is in finding ways to empower young people online to assist them in weeding out damaging content themselves. Additionally to this we need to provide more resources for parents and communities. One area that requires immediate support is postvention (interventions conducted immediately after a suicide).
Janine Scott – Intercepting Men. A 360 degree approach: character, content and context
Janine discussed a project of BeyondBlue (which was based on a Colorado project) that targeted men’s mental health in an engaging way. Called Man Therapy it introduced a character call Dr Brian Ironwood that tries to de-stigmatise the perception that it is unmanly to ask for help when feeling depressed or anxious. With a wide range of delivery mechanisms (online, posters in pubs etc) and a humorous approach it is attempting to not only inform but also start discussions between men on these issues.
Mid-afternoon Session – Engaging aboriginal people in the digital era
Zoe Betar from the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence spoje about their historically strong engagement with a physical presence, and there attempts to extend that online. They spent quite some time getting it right, making sure it is culturally appropriate, and in the end developed their own product – the Community of Excellence, a social site dedicated to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders where they can discuss issues around their identity, culture and more in a safe environment. One big aspect of the site is the ability to set goals, and with the help of mentors aim to achieve these goals.
Luke Pearson from Indigenous X put forth some strong views on racism in modern Australia. Not an easy talk to listen to, it made me question my actions and reactions when confronted with racism. In particular although I think I have not seen much racism in my life – perhaps I have just been ignorant of it and it’s impact.
Final Keynote – Disruption by design: why creativity is the key to innovation
Jeff Julian is a well recognised designer who is now working with the University of Newcastle as creative director for the research and innovation clusters. Described the natural flow of product creation, where you start with creativity (thinking), follow it with research (searching), go through the process of invention (discovery) and innovation (doing) and finally the end points are the outcomes (results). An engaging talker – he also discussed tactical vs strategic thinking and the importance of ceremony in our everyday lives. Disruption in the business world occurs in the space between incremental improvements and impossible goals.