The University of Technology Sydney's Respect.Now.Always. campaign has been recognized as one of Australia's most successful design projects for driving societal change. Created by UTS's Design Innovation Research Centre (DIRC), the participatory design campaign won 'Best in Class' for the social impact category at the Australian Good Design Awards.
Respect.Now.Always. is an ongoing UTS campaign which aims to create cultural change by tackling the attitudes and behaviors that support sexual assault and sexual harassment. "The jury loved the whole community design and engagement approach, as well as the redefining of the problem with a creative solution," stated the Good Design Awards Jury.
The campaign centers around large-scale public activations and workshops. These events, which have often been held during student orientation weeks, incorporate approachable visuals and activities designed to attract, engage and educate participants around the prevention of sexual violence. Topics addressed included attitudes that underpin sexual violence, bystander intervention and support services. The campaign has been adapted for online in 2020.
Bridget Malcolm, a researcher and strategic designer from the DIRC team, said the Respect.Now.Always. campaign was developed through a highly consultative and participatory design process. "We really engaged deeply with students and staff to get a broad understanding of the problem. This allowed us to see it in new and different ways, something we refer to as 'reframing' in design practice.
"Sexual harassment and the attitudes that support it are embedded in our society and it's very difficult to do something meaningful about it. We're thrilled to win this award, and it's validation for the nuanced, targeted and unique design solution we came up with to address what is a very complicated issue."
Novel features of the campaign include approachable branding using an ice-cream theme with a tag-line 'Wanna Spoon? Ask First!' This idiom references the importance of consent in everyday interactions, as well as intimate ones (spooning being a metaphor for cuddling).
"We intentionally used physical posters, t-shirts and stickers that can be interacted with," Malcolm explained. "This physicality provides an opportunity for people to engage with this very complex topic: to build a broader understanding of it and start to dismantle previous assumptions."
Photo: Courtesy of University of Technology Sydney