Finalist 2021

Giving Victorians agency over their bushfire recovery journey

Bushfire Recovery Victoria / Symplicit / Services Victoria

Giving Victorians agency over their bushfire recovery journey: an integrated citizen and community-led experience.

Following the 2019-20 Eastern Victoria fires, Bushfire Recovery Victoria (BRV) recognised the need for better access and coordination of support to improve community-led disaster recovery.

Often communities and individuals must tell their story repeatedly to different service providers, reliving their traumatic experiences while they navigate a complex and confusing services system.

Symplicit worked with BRV to understand the community recovery experience and design an improved community-led future experience.

The re-imagined experience enables a simple, connected, and tailored recovery journey for businesses, primary producers, and communities to access the recovery supports and services they need, when they need them.

Design Brief

When facing a natural disaster, people interact with numerous organisations from across community, business and government sectors. This creates a complex service ecosystem that can hinder businesses, primary producers, and communities from accessing the recovery supports and services they need, when they need them.

The project objective was to simplify the recovery journey by taking a human-centred approach to understanding and designing a future holistic experience for citizens and community following a disaster.

The intended outcome was to enable citizens and communities to take agency over their disaster recovery needs. The future experience should enable impacted communities to seamlessly engage with BRV, local, state and federal departments as well as NGOs to improve the recovery journey.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design process followed the Victorian Government human-centred design (HCD) method of Align, Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver (double diamond), outlined in the activities below.

Align and Discover activities:
We undertook a literature review and leveraged our own previous disaster research, as well as research from BRV and other Government agencies, to empathise and identify gaps in the existing data. We met with community members to validate assumptions and fill gaps in the data surrounding citizen experience pre- and post-disaster.

We created Experience Maps to demonstrate people’s journeys from life before the disaster through to early, mid- and longer-term recovery. The maps showed the support needs and pain points of citizens, as well as wider systemic issues for coordinating support agencies and organisations. We also undertook a top task analysis with front line staff to understand the priority services and features that would benefit citizens.

After gaining insight into the current service ecosystem, we created a future vision for recovery services that would serve the unique needs of four behavioural archetypes: the ‘inundated survivor’, the ‘self-isolator’, the ‘collected recoverer’ and the ‘compassionate volunteer’.

We co-designed a minimum viable product (MVP) Citizen and Community Recovery Portal with BRV and Services Victoria where people could manage all the services in one place. We designed a Future Community and Citizen Recovery Platform proof-of-concept (CCR Platform) for the next generation of disaster recovery coordination and a three-year roadmap to build and implement the new platform.

Our work achieved BRVs goal of designing a citizen-centred solution, that helps to reduce the trauma of people telling their story over and over, and that enables the community and citizens to access the available services when they need them.

Design Excellence

Best practice design was embedded through each stage of the project.

The Experience Maps illustrate the complex disaster recovery ecosystem and stages of recovery in a functional, easy to consume format that can be continually iterated as knowledge increases and the context evolves. They can be used by government and NGOs as an educational and practical tool to consider the diverse needs of citizens following a disaster.

The Behavioural Archetypes were developed to build empathy and align both the digital product team and the broader organisation around a desired future state supported by a prioritised feature roadmap.

The target future state recovery experience was then brought to life via illustrated storyboards, which are a powerful and easy to consume set of artefacts designed to aid decision making and change management activities within BRV and the broader disaster recovery ecosystem.

Design Innovation

The project delivered a comprehensive and unique set of design artefacts, a prototype and roadmap for Victoria to be a global leader in delivering an integrated citizen and community-led disaster recovery experience.

Design outcomes:
Empowers citizens and community to address and manage their unique needs, rather than top down approach:

  • Enables people to seek support at their own pace and enable a sense of agency and control.
  • People have the options to decide when, how and how much of their story and data they feel comfortable sharing.
  • Processes adapt to the cultural norms of aboriginal communities, so that the needs of aboriginal people are met.
  • Increased access to data to inform decision making, measure benefit and improve the way services are coordinated and delivered.

Designed for digital inclusion, recognising the diverse and varied levels of digital literacy and access:
- Caters to the needs of citizens with varying levels of digital literacy and ability.
- Identifies potential accessibility issues early and designs adjusted for this.

Designed for simplicity to reduce cognitive load and stress of accessing services through different providers:

  • Prioritised a ‘one front door’ approach, to avoid citizens having to repeatedly share their story and data and potentially get re-traumatised.
  • Adaptable systems and processes to people’s recovery needs, so that all levels of government can respond effectively.
  • Integrated and secure back-end to connect all the agencies, service providers and organisations who are trying to assist post disaster.

An omni-channel approach to cater for different citizen preferences:

  • Designed to complement the physical and digital environment (access services online or in person in communities).
  • Enables and supports frontline staff and supporting organisations to deliver services: it doesn’t replace the need for human interaction and empathy.
  • Mobile and desktop friendly design

Design Impact

Natural disasters will continue to impact communities across Australia and the world. Obstacles to accessing disaster support when it is needed can exacerbate mental and physical health issues, economic issues and equality issues in a community faced with a disaster. Symplicit and BRV set out to provide a solution that can address these complex societal issues by imagining a platform that simplifies the chaotic reality of recovering from a disaster.

Our future community and citizen recovery platform proof-of-concept (CCR Platform) is where people can manage all their recovery services in one place. It is a place where they can apply for a support payment, get support for housing, property, finance, health and wellbeing, children’s services, legal aid and insurance, or simply connect with a recovery support worker.

Their tailored profile they create gives them agency over what personal information they would like to share and reduces the traumatic experience of having to repeatedly tell their story and provide documentation.

When you’re overwhelmed and your life and community are shattered you just need something that works. That’s exactly what we designed. A platform where people only have to tell their story once, making it easier for them to share information and access the support they need, when they need it.

The CCR Platform showcases how Victoria can use technology and human-centred design to bring service providers across sectors closer together to better support Australian communities.

By integrating providers around an individual's needs, we are envisioning an efficient platform that fosters a more resilient community where equitable access to support, responsive economic stimulus and attentive mental wellbeing support are embedded in the service ecosystem.

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