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Co-design & Community Engagement

What is co-design?

Co-design refers to the collaborative effort of participants with diverse expertise working together to create a wholesome design result. While the term “codesign” is commonly used in discussions about public services, it has become somewhat of a trendy term without strong conceptual or practical foundations. In this quick read, we delve into the deeper aspects of co-design that go beyond conventional consumer participation models and how at Interite we have coordinated with relevant consumers to ensure a collaborative and inclusive result in each Mental Health service we have delivered. Contrary to being a mere model, co-design is actually a theory based on a specific set of values and principles. Embracing co-design challenges the established norms for many government departments and service delivery organisations, and it may also be unfamiliar territory for consumers who are not accustomed to having real power.







Image: VicLocal | Brimbank Mental Health & Wellbeing

How does co-design work?

Designing for People 

Would typically comprise of Designers, Professionals or Policy Makers working as the ‘expert’ in a top-down decision making role. This is about what the decision makers and those with design experience and expertise want in the design.

Designing at People
Includes anything centred, for example; human centered design, user centered design, citizen centered design etc. This category is really what the Designers and professionals want to know and achieve.

Led by the People
Also known as co-production and community-led design. This is about the people of the local community, what they and their families want for their own community.

Designing with People
Is an integral and usually the most important segment to refer to, working with participants who have lived experience to ensure what matters most to them is adhered to and their voice is heard.



The Interite response to co-design

We have been involved in a number of projects in the past where co-design has been a factor. How we have co-ordinated this is through one point of contact from the Interite team, working with the relevant participants through our typical step-by-step process that follows the popular process of, building conditions and identifying what we are working with; immersing ourselves in the local community to align with participants and partners; discovery of participant needs and longings; identifying current designs and how we can build on that; refinement of new and existing designs; implementation of co-design results and process review.

Throughout the process, we continue to conduct regular PCG (Project Control Group) meetings from the initial design stages through to handover to ensure all parties are aligned.





Image: Headspace Osbourne Park

Interite’s  co-design experience with community engagement:

Interite have delivered more than 40 Head to Health/Vic Local locations nationally since 2016. Many of these projects being in remote regions/communities.

The key for each project was translating community culture/desire into a space that attracts everyone, especially the young people.
Interite achieved this by:

  • Providing Initial Concept ideas/imagery and past project photos to inspire conversation at the local young people’ workshop.
  • Interite design team attending local community workshops
  • Working closely with the community health organisation’s marketing team to ensure local community were updated/engaged throughout the whole project journey.


Co-production – Putting principles into practice in mental health contexts, 2018 Cath Roper, Flick Grey & Emma Cadogan

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