Breaking the mould: how can design achieve equality for all?

Suds Hettiarachchi, Tasneem Chopra & Graeme Innes | 29 May 2019 | 26:37


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Show notes

Many communities today are full of people of different shapes, ages, races and access needs. Walk into an office building, shopping centre or train station and you will see a smorgasbord of humans who look and move around differently.

Yet do our public spaces reflect that diversity so that everyone experiences equality of access, comfort, and familiarity? People with disabilities, from other cultures, or those who are ageing can struggle in public spaces. This is because traditionally, public spaces have been designed to meet the needs of how the majority of people will use a product or space.

In this episode of Engineering Reimagined, we explore the vital role that design can play in creating better communities by considering the diversity of people living in these spaces. Aurecon’s Associate Director and Mechanical Engineer Suds Hettiarachchi talks to two eminent leaders in this field – Australia’s former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes AM and cross-cultural consultant and anti-racism champion Tasneem Chopra.

They discuss the increasing importance of designing for diversity and the role that early consultation can play in breaking down stereotypes and creating inclusive communities. They also explore what impact an inclusively designed space can have on a person's life.

Meet our guest and host

Learn more about Suds Hettiarachchi, Tasneem Chopra and Graeme Innes.

Suds Hettiarachchi

Suds Hettiarachchi

Associate Director and Mechanical Engineer

The teacher said to them, “What would you rather, a box of all the same chocolates, or a box of totally different chocolates?” I'm like, “Well I want the different ones because you experience different things.”

Suds is an Associate Director and Mechanical Engineer within Aurecon’s Built Environment team. Highly skilled in design management, project management, planning and delivery of complex engineering projects, he leads Aurecon Australia’s client management functions for two key clients. Suds utilises his customer-centric approach to understand the ‘why’ component of every delivery, using Design Thinking to ensure the final product exceeds expectations. He is a champion for diverse and inclusive workplaces. Follow Suds on LinkedIn:

Tasneem Chopra

Tasneem Chopra

Cross-cultural Consultant & Anti-racism Champion

“You find that you're always carrying, almost the burden of having to explain why you look the way, you sound the way you do, when you don't basically represent the host”

Tasneem is a cross-cultural consultant and has recently been appointed as an Anti-Racism Champion by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Previously, she was one of 50 Women You Need to Know in Herald Sun International Women’s Day 2017 count. She has also been listed in The Age Magazine’s Top 100 most influential Movers and Shakers in Melbourne and The Australian Magazine’s Leader series of Top Ten Thinkers. Through her consultancy, she speaks across the private and public sector to issues of leadership, diversity, cultural competence, and intersectional discrimination. Follow Tasneem on LinkedIn:

Greame Innes

Graeme Innes

Australia’s former Disability Discrimination Commissioner

“It's really important to take user experience into account and to make sure that the user experience includes all members of the community, not just members of the community who don't have disabilities”

Graeme Innes is a company director and is a member of several governments, social sector, and profit boards. He was Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner from December 2005 until July 2014. At the same time, he also served as Australia's Human Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race Discrimination Commissioner for two years. He has been a human rights practitioner for 30 years in NSW, WA and nationally. He was born blind and has played a significant role in advocating for human rights and disability initiatives. Follow Graeme on LinkedIn:

Don't Believe the Hype, Exceed It - The War Against Stereotypes: Tasneem Chopra at TEDxMelbourne

In this Ted Talk that went viral five years ago, Tasneem describe herself as a quota queen, listing a number of criteria that define her as diverse in Australia.

Tasneem is brown-skinned, female, over 35, and a Muslim who wears a headscarf.

Play video Tasneem Chopra at TEDxMelbourne in 2013

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