Improving Social Inclusion Pathways for Low-Income Families in Townsville through Place-Based Creative Collaborations

Improving Social Inclusion Pathways for Low-Income Families in Townsville

Project dates: 01/01/2024 - Ongoing

Project Overview 

This project co-led by the QUT Design Lab, the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), Daktech, and The Smith Family will design, deliver, and test the pilot for an innovative program designed to combat social isolation and loneliness in low-income families and households in the City of Townsville, North Queensland.

The project will deliver in two parts:

A: Place design

The project will create a safe accessible space to help people who experience social isolation and loneliness develop a sense of purpose, social connections, digital skills, and personal confidence. Participants will engage in a range of creative practice activities at Daktech’s fully fitted maker space facility. Challenging deficit models of poverty and social isolation, the aim is to focus on vernacular forms of creativity that can instil pride and joy in participants.

B: Community engagement

Since 2021, QUT and The Smith Family have been working on the ground in Townsville to advance digital inclusion in low-income families.

This project will extend this work by adding a pathway for members of these families to experience peer support and training in a safe, informal and creative environment. We will assess how connected learning and skills development may lead to improved social and economic outcomes for families, communities and support organisations such as The Smith Family. This project provides opportunities for people who experience financial disadvantage due to unemployment and underemployment to develop their sense of purpose, social connections, skills, and confidence through creative practice with their peers. Secondary target groups affected may also include single parents and young people. The project evaluation will assess the impact on combating social isolation and improving economic outcomes.

QUT has been working with families living on low incomes in Townsville. The digital inclusion challenges they face pose risks for exacerbating social isolation and loneliness. QUT contributes senior research expertise and provides an experienced practitioner who oversees the community engagement and facilitates the participants’ journey to improve social and technical skills. Social skills include collaboration with peers, time management, and communication.

Technical skills include how to identify and develop ideas through vernacular creative practice and digital skills development. 2 Industry partner Daktech provides a safe accessible maker space facility with digital tools and resources such as 3D printers that participants can use to create and collaborate on projects.

The Smith Family has partnered with QUT on an Australian Research Council Linkage project and will assist with participant recruitment through their local Townsville branch.

Project Team

Prof Marcus Foth, QUT Design Lab
Dr Kim Osman, QUT Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC)
Prof Greg Hearn, QUT Design Lab
Michael Bromage, (PhD Candidate, QUT Design Lab and DMRC).

Funding / Grants

QLD Department of Communities, Housing and the Digital Economy: Communities Innovation Fund – Response to Social Isolation and Loneliness, $50,000

Collaborative Partners

Chief Investigators