An RMIT research project on disaster resilience has received two prestigious prizes at the 2014 Good Design Awards.
Dr Yoko Akama, chief investigator of the Community-centred innovation: co-designing for disaster preparedness project, was presented with the awards at a gala event.
The project was recognised with the award for Best in Category for Service Design and with the special Patron's Prize, selected by Michael Bryce AM AE for the entry "that has the potential to shape the future economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of our planet".
With natural disasters predicted to become more frequent and severe in future, the research seeks to strength resilience and independence in communities so they are not totally reliant on emergency services and can devise their own solutions in extreme weather events.
Dr Akama, a senior lecturer in Communication Design in the Media and Communication, said: "I am grateful for these awards, which celebrate the research I have been doing for the last 5 years.
"I receive them on behalf of countless others in the emergency management sector, communities, councils and non-profit organisations who have supported, inspired and taught me over the years to endure and keep going with it.
"What was most amazing was receiving Michael Bryce's Patron's Award for this project - this recognised design that can enable ordinary people to tackle problems themselves, which is different to how design is normally seen, either as designers solving problems on behalf of others, or worse, design that is only valued for commercial impact.
"I am really pleased to be able to promote the empowering role design can play for communities."
Presented by Good Design Australia, the Good Design Awards each year recognise the best in design around the country, highlighting how the process of design thinking can be applied to resolve longstanding challenges and issues.
Associate Professor Laurene Vaughan, Deputy Dean of Design, Games and Interaction in the School of Media and Communication, said the awards acknowledged an important expansion in the understanding and practice of design, beyond the context of commerce and material consumption.
"It is fantastic that the Good Design Awards judging panel have recognised the valuable contribution of Yoko Akama's research not only in terms of its innovation in our understanding of design practice, but more importantly for the broader contribution that design makes to society," she said.
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