Co-Design: An evolution of community development?

Co-design is a hot priority that is attracting funding across the development sectors. But how is it really different to community development, participatory action research, or human centred design?

In this event, Melbourne Development Circle presents a robust discussion about the co-design approach: where it has come from, why it should – or should not – be used, and what does it truly look like when applied? Our panel will share real experiences where co-design has been applied to address the SDGs, what success and failure looks like, and lessons learned from their communities. Attendees will develop a better understanding of the risks, accountabilities and readiness in keeping to the true co-design process.


  • José Ramos, Director, Action Foresight
  • Lucy Fraser, Senior Social Innovator, TACSI
  • Christine Thong, Academic Director & International Program Lead, Design Factory Melbourne
  • Eleanor Louden, CEO, Engineers Without Borders

MDC June Event Speakers


Date: Tuesday June 18, 2019
Venue: City of Melbourne Bowls Club, Flagstaff Gardens
Tickets: $22 per person including light refreshments. To purchase tickets please visit Humanitix

Speaker biographies: 

Associate Professor Christine Thong

Associate Professor Christine Thong is Academic Director at Design Factory Melbourne, part of the Global Design Factory Network. At the intersection of academia and industry, she mentors student teams in international, interdisciplinary collaboration projects. As Academic Director, Christine has developed a range of different programs that use design inspired innovation, including co-design, methods for exploring real-world problems.

This includes CBI A3, a Challenge Based Innovation program run in conjunction with IdeaSquare CERN. Here student groups use design innovation process and mindset to propose applications that use CERN technology to address societal needs defined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Christine also leads Swinburne’s participation in Stanford University’s ME310 Design Innovation program.  She has worked with a range of SME’s, start-ups and large corporations from Australia and abroad. Christine’s research explores combining (product) design and (material) science for commercial outcomes relevant and beneficial to society.

Dr José Ramos

Dr. Jose Ramos is director of Action Foresight, a Melbourne-based business that focuses on bridging transformational futures with present-day action, and adjunct Senior Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast. He holds a Doctorate from Queensland University of Technology in Global Studies and Strategic Foresight and has taught and lectured on futures studies, public policy, and social innovation at the National University of Singapore, Swinburne University of Technology (Lee Kuan Yee School of Public Policy), Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), Leuphana University (Germany), the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) and Victoria University (Australia).

He writes broadly on a variety of topics spanning economic, cultural and political change, with over 50 publications in a variety of journals, magazines and books. He has co-founded numerous civil society organizations, a social forum, a maker lab, an advocacy group for commons governance, and a peer to peer leadership development group for mutant futurists.

Lucy Fraser

With her experience as an industrial and social designer, Lucy works with people at every stage of a project to co-design solutions.

At TACSI Lucy applies her skills in design research, analysis and prototyping for innovation in child protection, disability services and migrant communities.

She has co-developed a foster care model named Co-parenthood and designed three disability services. Lucy’s grounded understanding of social innovation enables her to co-design with families, frontline staff, providers, policy makers and academics, and build visual tools to support communication between these groups. She also facilitates co-design workshops and builds social innovation capability.

Biography thanks to TACSI

Eleanor Loudon

Eleanor Loudon is the CEO of Engineers Without Borders Australia. With a Masters of Management in Community, Eleanor is an advocate of applying smart business principles to strengthen the for-purpose sector and increase its impact. She is also part of the emerging movement in Australia for a community-led, collaborative approach to tackling our most complex issues.

Eleanor has over 25 years experience in community development in Australia and overseas, and has held program management and leadership roles with Australian Volunteers International, EarthWatch Institute, and United Way Australia, and served as National Director Sri Lanka with ChildFund International for three years.

Biography thanks to EWB Australia.