OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Prompt cards for community

Connecting refugees and community through roleplaying prompt cards at events where we share food and conversation

Photo of Simon Haan
1 2

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

One of the most critical domains needed for successful refugee resettlement and integration into a new community is social connections, including social bridges, social bonds, and social links. In communities receiving refugees, both the refugees and other community members often find it difficult to connect due to a lack of understanding. This is often due to cultural differences, preconceptions of other cultures and language divides. These barriers can be dissolved quite rapidly though when opportunities to connect are provided in everyday settings, such as sharing food. In these situations people are able to readily identify points of commonality as well as find a space to empathise and explore ways to assist going forward. Our solution involves the creation of sets of roleplaying prompt cards that can be distributed at hosted community events involving food and conversation where both refugees and non-refugees are attending. The cards can be used to provide a guided way to learn about each others culture and develop a deeper connection and understanding whilst enjoying some food together. The power of the idea is in its simplicity and cheapness to implement whilst still having the potential to markedly increase connection and understanding, thereby enabling greater hospitality and solidarity for refugees in receiving communities.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This idea targets communities receiving refugees in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. At least 4,000 refugees settle in Victoria each year through the Humanitarian Program and another 10,000 people who arrived as asylum seekers live in the Victorian community on bridging visas while they wait for the determination of their refugee status. Victoria accounts for approximately 30% of all refugees in Australia, with the highest proportion of refugees from Iraq, Syria, Burma and Afghanistan.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This idea builds a bridge of social connection between refugees entering Melbourne and receiving communities. Social connection is a core domain of successful resettlement and is often the difference between a hospitable and supportive community and an unwelcoming one.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Social connections are a foundation for people to lead joyful, hopeful and dignified lives. When social connections are lacking and a receiving community is not welcoming or prejudges refugees repeatedly, their sense of identity and self-worth is greatly diminished. Within such a context the social 'nutriments' needed to lead a fulfilling life beyond basic needs is severely hampered. On the other hand, when social connections are strong between refugees and receiving communities there is great potential for joy, hope and dignity. Joy can be readily found in the sharing of stories, jokes and friendly gestures. Hope is created through refugees knowing that they have the support of community members and can count on others to lend a helping hand when needed. Dignity is also upheld through feeling like a valued member of a community as well as community members standing up for refugee rights.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Implementation of this idea will change the connection narrative between refugees and Melbourne communities receiving refugees. There is currently a large need for more opportunities for refugees and receiving communities to meet, share experiences and connect in an everyday setting to form stronger bonds and deeper understanding. This idea creates an actionable impact by giving both refugees and receiving communities a simple and guided way to come together, learn about each other and connect over an enjoyable meal. Very little is needed from refugees and receiving communities to make this work other than them turning up to the event and taking part with an open mind. It will be evident that a positive change is occurring through the number of events held and participants involved where the prompt cards are used as well as from community feedback collected at events. Feedback can be used to continuously improve events to improve their success.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The inspiration for this idea is stories shared from refugees that have resettled in Melbourne and challenges they faced from receiving communities. A consistent message was that receiving communities were often not welcoming at first in the street or in social interactions due to a lack of understanding and preconceptions of refugees. However, a number of stories were shared that showed that when there was an opportunity to meet in an everyday context, such as dinner, then connections were fostered and magical things happened. This simple act of sharing a meal enabled an open conversation, understanding and connection. Friendships and support networks were cultivated that endured.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The communities to be served include primarily refugees from Iraq, Syria, Burma and Afghanistan. They are a minority within the communities with the remainder typically being multi-generation Australians. The communities are typically located in areas of lower socioeconomic status. Access to public services and resources as well as education opportunities are often more limited than in other parts of the city. There can also be a higher incidence of crime. Community integration is typically lacking with refugees often living primarily surrounded by the local community or in concentrated and isolated parts of the community with other refugees. There are numerous examples of discrimination against refugees fueled by a lack understanding. Notwithstanding this, there are also some stories of great hospitality and solidarity. This indicates the potential for great community connection given appropriately supportive conditions.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

The impacted communities have a number of strengths and advantages that will make the idea successful. The refugee populations in these areas are incredibly resilient and remain optimistic about a brighter future for their community. They are open to new ideas, keen to connect with members of the community, and believe the proposed prompt cards could assist in fostering community connection. There are also a number of not-for-profit organisations committed to supporting refugees in these communities. Some of these already deliver events related to connecting refugees and receiving communities over food, and this can be built upon and enhanced with the prompt cards in this solution. Further, there are opportunities to connect and consolidate some of these initiatives to host larger scale events that deliver a greater impact.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Interest in assisting with this project has been expressed from the business, government and not-for-profit sectors. Further development of these relationships is currently underway.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

ASRC's vision is for the welcoming Australia we want for people seeking asylum; one that is generous, compassionate, embraces the resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and potential of refugees to enable people to thrive. We have 4 key goals currently: 1. We increase impact by focusing on critical and unmet needs through collaboration, innovation and evaluation. 2. We are positioned to respond to immediate and long term challenges locally and regionally. 3. Work together to build a powerful movement that leads effective social change for people seeking asylum. 4. We operate sustainably and are transparent and accountable to our community.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are an OpenIDEO Chapter

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Melbourne, Victoria

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Sevde Şengün

Hello Simon Haan  great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea's touchpoints! As the ideas phase comes to an end within few hours, we would encourage you to again have a last look at the evaluation criteria here:
Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them. For example check out the Bridge to a Better Life :