Participatory design for democracy and wellbeing : narrowing the gap between service outcomes and perceived needs

Janet McIntyre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper explains how narratives told by Aboriginal service users and Aboriginal service providers form the basis for redesigning the approach to complex interrelated problems associated with unemployment, alcohol, domestic violence and homelessness. On the basis of the case study it develops an argument for how it is possible to mainstream the matching of services to meet perceived needs. It makes the case that (1) it is possible for democracy to be re-worked in such a way that (a) collective needs (and steering for the common good) can be married to (2) decentralized policy making (and steering from below). Sustainable participatory policy based on user perceptions of what works why and how could be the basis for enabling people to set aside narrow difference and to consider different ways to govern democratically. We conclude that bureaucratic and compartmentalized responses are inadequate to address complex multifaceted problems and that the process of engagement is in itself important for democracy and wellbeing. The area of concern is to address identity and social inclusion. The research explores convergent user-centric design. The criteria for UCD are: Improving wellbeing, Enhancing participation in thinking through if-then scenarios, Matching services to perceived need, Enhancing rational decisions, Generating evidence based policy based on mapping and modeling, Attaining sustainability, Fostering creativity and innovation, Building communities, Expanding opportunity. A dedicated website describes the work of the ARC team

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-45
    Number of pages25
    JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


    • Participatory design
    • Perceived needs
    • Performance outcomes


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