Write FOR your reader vs. writing WITH your reader: human-centred design in professional communication


Portraying Asian-diasporic identity beyond the limits of the literary label Asian-Australian

Presented by: Catriona Arthy and Olivia De Zilva

Date: Friday 01 September 2023
Time: 12-1pm
Location: Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building)


Write FOR your reader vs. writing WITH your reader: human-centred design in professional communication. By Catriona Arthy

Workplace texts such as policy documents, codes of conduct, and documented processes govern the way our workplaces work. They set out expectations about behaviours, processes, and guidelines, and they often have enforceable expectations. They are small documents that can have big impacts on our lives. As texts, their effectiveness is measured not by the skills or artistry of their writer, but by whether the reader’s behaviour complies with expectations. Writing effective texts for the workplace requires a writer to write for their reader so that, as Orwell highlights, the reader can be informed and participate fully in society.

The recent turn towards social justice in technical communication takes this further, highlighting how technical communication, such as codes of conduct and workplace policies, can professionalise, codify, and normalise oppressive structures, and how scholars and practitioners can work towards more just outcomes. My research is looking at how moving from a human-informed approach to one that is human-centred can contribute to more socially just and equitable texts.

In this seminar I am presenting early findings of my research with an amateur sporting club, specifically what the readers have told me about themselves and what they want writers to know when they are writing for them (as readers). 

Portraying Asian-diasporic identity beyond the limits of the literary label Asian-Australian. By Olivia De Zilva

The label ‘Asian-Australian’ is regularly used to define works of contemporary literature by Australian authors from a variety of distinct Asian backgrounds. While other authors may be comfortable using this label, I argue that terms such as ‘Asian-Australian’ risk oversimplifying and homogenising unique cultural experiences: the ‘term purposefully ‘others’ writers within a ‘multicultural’ framework relying too heavily on labelling people based on their ethnicity’ (Chakraborty and Walton 674). Moreover, the use of Asian-Australian in literature not only ‘underestimates the differences and hybridities amongst Asians, but it also inadvertently supports racist discourse that perceives Asians as a homogenous group, implying that they are ‘all alike’ and conform to types’ (Lowe 538). The use of ‘Chinese-Australian’ and ‘Chinese’ are problematic for similar reasons (Ang).  

This project employs a practice-led approach to examine the challenges of exploring identity and the difficulties that arise when labelling and categorising such diverse identities.  The work will have emphasis on Hong Kong identity in particular, using it’s representation in Australian literature (which is often conflated with Chinese) to illustrate these challenges to regarding representation. This research will develop a critique of the use of categories such as ‘Asian-Australian’, ‘Chinese-Australian’ and ‘Chinese’, examining their potential to overgeneralise or erase the experiences of some Australian communities and to mask some specific failings of multiculturalism. Moreover, the research will challenge the marginalisation of Hong Kong identity in Australian culture, politics, and scholarship and illustrate the creative and political importance of eschewing oppressive labels and systems of white hegemonic classification.


Catriona Arthy is a PhD student in writing studies at the University of Queensland. Catriona’s research examines the limitations of readability approaches in promoting effective writing and seeks to develop human-centred approaches to writing across a range of professional genres.

Olivia De Zilva is a writer based in Meanjin. She is currently studying a Masters of Philosophy specialising in Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. She was awarded the Deakin University Non-Fiction Prize by Express Media in 2019, shortlisted for the University of Queensland Press Mentorship Award and The Deborah Cass Prize in 2022. Her work has appeared in Westerly, Liminal, SBS, Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review and Australian Poetry Journal among many others. Olivia is the editor-in-chief of Jacaranda, a humanities and creative writing journal based out of The University of Queensland


About Research Seminar and Workshop Series


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 23 Febraury

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

The Szondi Test: Mimetic Desire and the Media of PsychiatryDr Grant Bollmer



Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building) https://uqz.zoom.us/j/84777956320