About Snowglobe

We’re building Snowglobe, an innovative crisis service empowering LGBTQIA+ Australians to connect with resources and services supporting their gender, sexuality, sexual health, bodies, identity, feelings and relationships. Queer people and allies can ask questions anonymously in a conversational text style and receive tailored answers written by educators and experts using chatbot technology. 

Whether it’s a simple guide to pronouns, letter templates to send to your school, tailored advice on changing your name, or referrals to local support groups, Snowglobe will be ready to help, accessible via text, and completely confidential with absolutely no waiting times.

Using co-design principles, we will design Snowglobe in an immersive collaboration with the LGBTQIA+ community and its many intersections: with the goal of eliminating discrimination, ensuring accessibility, and raising the bar for how charities can use technology for social justice.

Why a chatbot? 

Chatbots are proven to work as health interventions.

Several articles in the Journal for Medical Internet Research promote a resounding success in applying AI in various sectors, including helping people quit smoking and promoting physical activity. 

An overseas example of success in this sector is the Roo chatbot by Planned Parenthood, which millions of young people use each year to ask questions about sexual health confidentially. Roo was featured in Fast Company, Mashable, Vox, and Healthline and named one of the 100 best inventions of 2019 by Time Magazine.

AdAge wrote that Roo  “…gives fast answers in a judgment-free, anonymous setting that’s comfortable for the audience instead of kids going to unchecked online sources.”

“Brands and nonprofits have only scratched the surface of what AI can do. Helping teens access trusted information—especially when so many aren’t getting the sexual health education they really need—makes this [Roo] a rare sort of digital product,” says Work & Co-Founding Partner Gene Liebel.

Another example is the popular smoking cessation app Smoke Free, which almost doubled engagement and significantly increased odds of quitting success after being updated to include a supportive artificial intelligence chatbot.

Whether it’s fleeing domestic violence, beating anxiety or fighting COVID-19 misinformation, chatbots are proven to reduce stigma, connect people with resources and enhance education with a conversational approach that creates a simple and informative experience by reinventing the most critical pillar of human communication.

Chatbots and text services are beaten only by in-person support services for queer youth.

LGBTQA+ young Australians overwhelmingly prefer chat or text services (19.1%) over telephone services (2.1%), beaten only by in-person services (Writing Themselves in 4).

After redeveloping Lifeline’s crisis service using chat technology, an independent review by the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong found that “As many as 42 per cent of people who texted [Lifeline] said they would not have sought help via phone or another service if the textline had not been available”.

Design process

The overarching design principle of Snowglobe is going a step further than traditional consultation by becoming co-design partners with the community. We will use co-design mindsets, including valuing many perspectives, elevating the voice and contribution of lived experience above academic knowledge, living in the grey, learning through doing, hospitality, and curiosity.

Our co-design methodology is adapted from an “A first-hand experience of co-design in mental health service design: Opportunities, challenges, and lessons”, published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, as well as Beyond Sticky Notes written by Kelly Ann (KA) McKercher.

We will establish a model of care for co-designers to create a trauma-informed, consent-driven practice and support co-designer well-being.

Our program plan for 2022 includes three major design initiatives:

  • First, we will run a nationwide experience bank, where LGBTQIA+ young people across Australia can deposit by recording videos detailing their lived experiences with support services and tell us how we can make Snowglobe a safe and inclusive space for them. Our innovative video survey format utilises emerging software donated by VideoAsk that allows us to collect rich qualitative data in ways that a simple survey cannot.
  • Simultaneously, we will attend LGBTQIA+ community groups and events to run Snowglobe workshops, learn from lived experience, and use playful activities to directly involve young people in the design and writing process. We have already reached out to over 25 organisations across Victoria and the NSW border to connect with a diverse range of experiences.
  • Q Co-Lab will also run immersive compensated workshops in locations across Victoria where participants become designers on the project and pool together their experiences to create Snowglobe. Activities include question brainstorming, group prototyping, establishing evaluation criteria, card sorting, scoping the project, and creating a writing style guide.
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