Co-creation is a very important ingredient in Satellite’s “special sauce” – it’s something we are known for, and we are always looking for ways to apply co-creation in our programs and activities because creativity is at the heart of all that we do. But what is co-creation and what does it look like in practice? Satellite’s Youth Advisor Lotti O’Dea talks everything co-creation in the Satellite space, in this quick read.
What is co-creation?
At Satellite, co-creation is a term that covers several different ways young people and/or families shape and influence what we do – whether that’s Satellite’s organisational processes or program design, or opportunities to amplify young voices.
Why does Satellite do co-creation?
Young people are the experts: In the words of one of our young people – “No-one knows what’s needed for youth mental health better than young people”. By listening and following the lead of our young people, Satellite can be more effective.
Co-creation is an opportunity to empower young people to know their voice is heard and value. It’s another opportunity for young people to build and practice their skills. It gives young people hands-on experience (typically paid) in shaping programs, supporting them to become future changemakers in their own right.
‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ – when our younger participants see our program graduates become peer facilitators or contribute in other ways, they can see a future for themselves.
It’s a channel for young people to influence the mental health system: The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended an organisation like Satellite to ‘co-design’ and expand the range of supports for children and young people who have a family member with mental health challenges.
What does co-creation look like at Satellite?
Our concept of co-creation has evolved out of 10 years of Satellite staff naturally finding ways and opportunities to actively listen to and act on young people’s ideas and interests. However – just as young people are all different – we’ve incorporated the voices of young people in different ways. For example:
Satellite programs provide opportunities for young people to produce a creative output (e.g., a song, photo, or poster) that is then shared with other young people and/or on Satellite’s website.
Programs and activities to match – e.g., in a workshop, a participant said they enjoyed photography. Now photography workshops are a regular program!
We collect feedback formally and informally to keep learning and improving, e.g. we keep in touch with participants and they share their views, we regularly engage with our growing group of graduates, family members, and our Youth Advisory Council will increasingly guide us across our different activities.
All these activities have an impact on what we do – but some have a more direct impact than others. To make it clearer for us and for young people, we use our co-creation framework to describe the different ways Satellite will include young people and/or families in shaping what we do.
Why does Satellite use the co-creation framework?
A lot of terms are thrown around in mental health now: co-creation, co-design, co-production, co-delivery, and others. In that environment we find:
It’s hard to keep track of all the terms!
Everyone feels pressure to say they do co-design when that’s not always the case.
There’s almost a shame around doing work that involves others but isn’t “pure” co-design.
We think it’s more important to use co-design when it’s needed, and to be transparent about using other approaches when they are more appropriate for co-creation – because sometimes they are more appropriate. This is especially important in Satellite spaces because:
We exist to contradict the past, not to repeat it: Our young people are incredibly resilient. Many of them have been misled or misused by individuals, organisations and/or systems – even those with the best of intentions. Satellite commits to not repeating these patterns. Instead, we will respect our young people and the people in their lives by doing what we say we will.
Our relationships with young people are based on honesty and trust: We have a commitment to be clear about how their views will influence what we do, to do what we say and to keep reflecting on our actions.
How can you get involved in co-creation at Satellite?
If you’re a young person or a parent/carer: You or your child or young person can start getting a taster of our co-creation work through participating in our programs or (if you’re 14+) joining our Youth Pathways Program. If you’re unsure where to start, contact us here. We love to hear co-creation ideas from family members and friends too! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a professional working with young people and/or in the mental health space, you can refer a young person here. Or just interested? You can contact the Satellite team at email@example.com.