Echo Refugee App





Personal Project
UX/UI, Digital illustration




7 weeks


The issue picked up for our design project is the refugee issue in Australia. Firstly, we take this issue in the global context and then look at how it impacts upon Australia nowadays and in the long term as well. The refugee issue has undeniably become one of the most significant global challenges today.



When refugees got released from the detention facilities, the resettlements have become one of the most significant problems on this issue in Australia. The cost of resettlement for refugees then become a hot social topic as people started to question if refugees’ resettlement will be an economic burden to Australia. Indeed, there’s nothing inevitable about refugees being a cost. However, they are human beings with skills, talents, and aspirations with the ability to make contributions - if we let them.


According to The Building a New Life in Australia study that conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) in 2015. It shows that the refugee unemployment rate is about 93% in Australia (AIFS, 2015). This report gathered data over five years on close to 2,400 individuals and families living around Australia, who have been granted a permanent humanitarian visa in the previous three to six months (AIFS, 2015). The majority of people involved in the study were new arrivals: 75% had been living in Australia for less than six months and 85% for one year or less (AIFS, 2015). This report shows the fact that most of the newly arrived refugees do have difficulties to find an appropriate job in Australia.


According to Numbeo’s report of ‘Cost of Living in Sydney’ in 2015. It shows that the average rental price for 1 bedroom apartment in the City Centre is $2493.42 AUD per month (Numbeo, 2016). A single refugee receiving Newstart Allowance and sharing rented accommodation would currently receive $573.27 per fortnight (Buckmaster, 2012). Social welfare is not enough for them to cover the cost of living in major cities in Australia such as Sydney. Thus, refugees have to live further away from metropolitan and regional areas due to high accommodation costs and housing shortages. This means they also move further away from employment opportunities, educational facilities and so on. Therefore, it is clear that refugees need more affordable and safe housing.

English Language Barrier

One of the main reasons for new refugee arrivals couldn’t find a job in Australia is that because of the English language barrier. According to the Australia government’s refugee and humanitarian program report in 2015, it shows that the top ten countries of birth are Iraq, Syria, Burma, Afghanistan, Congo, Eritrea, Bhutan, Iran, Somalia, Ethiopia, and others. The Australia government’s “Adult Migrant English Program” (AMEP) aims at helping and training newly-arrived refugees’ English skills. AMEP provides 510 hours of English class for newly-arrived refugees (Larsen, 2013). However, this is not enough for refugees to master a new language in such a short period of time. Thus, our design project is focused on how to help refugees to develop their English skills in the long term.

Social Isolation 

Lack of social participation is one of the major problems when refugees resettle in Australia. From Centre for Multicultural Youth Issue’s (CMYI) report in 2007, it shows that most of the refugees in Australia have/had experienced isolation from Australia’s mainstream society due to government regulations, isolated housing conditions and lack of information about local communities and events (CMYI, 2007). Social isolation will also have a bad effect on mental health (CMYI, 2007). Thus, refugees need to participate in local communities more often.


Through our user interviews, we were able to find the motivations and frustration of Australians and refugees. While the goals of both users were different (Australians, and refugees respectively), we have found they both have a shared goal in having a community of the refugee-Australian After synthesizing our user research via affinity maps we were able to create two personas: Abbas(Australian) and Saleem(Refugee).


Problem Statement (Australian): Abbas wants to start a start-up hiring refugees in Australia but there is less chance to find refugees in job seeker websites in Australia. How might we help Abbas easily find refugee employees for his start-up and helping the refugee community?


Problem Statement (Refugees): Saleem wants to settle down with his family in Australia and wants to get a job as soon as possible to support his family. But There are language barrios to read job descriptions with taking care of his family who needs a social connection. How might we help Saleem and his family to adjust to society in Australia?

User Testing

User testing early and often let my team find out what was and was not working before we spent too much time and effort into a design stage. Our team contacted refugee students and booked them in for 40~45minutes with one by one in UNSW empty class. I have recorded all of the session via smartphone and another UX designer have taken a note which is like the wall of justice in digital form f the sprint book. We started to conducted useability testing by asking a few primer questions just to get the user of comfortable and in the context of what we're going to be talking about.

Refugee Scenario(Need help) / Task1: How you would apply for a job


Need help screen / The user flow for applying for a job, the red circle is the touchpoint

Australians Scenario(Offer) / Task2: How you would post a job


Offer screen / The user flow for posting a job

Quantitative Preference Testing: Our team has tested a large number of people of Australians and refugee students in Uni and what they think of the three different color schemes showed below. People prefer simple and clear color schemes rather than gradient color schemes and they easily and quickly finish tasks.


The different color schemes of app for Quantitative Preference Testing


The logic of Echo

Our app started to build the hierarchy when two main features were developed. They are the ‘need helps’ (refugees) feature and the ‘offer’ (Australians-refugee supporters) feature. These two main features lead to the whole structure of our app. It is simple to use and the structure of the app is clear; these two features represent our two main target users – refugees and refugee supporters. Refugees can use ‘need helps’ in every category of our app to solve their needs. Refugee supporters can use ‘offer’ at the earlier stage of their exploring the app. These two features meet our main initial design principle of this project – that is about to find a collaborative design solution that can help refugees’ resettlement difficulties.


Abbas (Australians)

He is the last year uni student in UNSW and he volunteers to teach English at the Refugee support centre. He is thinking of a start-up company after graduating from this course and he is interested in his new business which can also contribute to society. He is hiring a refugee employee and granted as a great social enterprise of 2020.


Saleem (Refugees)

Saleem has been in Australia with this family for a couple of months. And they are currently staying in permanent housing from the Australian Government. He worries about finding a job to support his family in the further and settle down in Australia.


Design Language System

To create a design language system, we first conducted our style guide containing the brand colors, typography, 8px grid spacing system, basic components, and iconography. Once we finished setting up, we created our Component Library in Figma. For the app grid system, an 8px grid we selected. This is similar to Google Material Design guideline.


Interface Design

The language supports for refugees 

MUMS' CHOICE provides social community service and note service for users. Our targets include particular and minor users level so sharing information is essential for them. Contents on Chat designed to recommend reviews from other users and they can give and take feedbacks and information immediately. By noting service on MUMS' CHOICE called My Basket, help them to achieve the task and reduce inconvenience to open another noting app on a smartphone.

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