After celebrating National Children’s week last week, we reflect on the impact of the planning and design of our built spaces on children.
One of Murawin’s core area of work is our Indigenous place strategy advisory service, where we work closely with clients across the urban planning, landscape design and architecture fields to ensure that Indigenous concepts are incorporated into infrastructure from inception, through implementation, and with careful consideration for the future.
It is often difficult to clearly identify connections to the Australian environment in our built environment. Despite a continual evolution in design principles and build materials, our design style continues to largely reflect our colonial roots and modern imported approaches. Incorporating Australian Indigenous place strategy through the facilitation of Indigenous participation and engagement with Country, we can start to identify and create uniquely Australian design. By having appropriate and genuine built environments, communities can flourish, and children with them. If children do not feel safe in their environment, they lose chances to grow, learn and explore, and all our community, present and future are poorer for it.
At Murawin we strive for inclusivity in all aspects, this includes children, and by providing Indigenous place strategy consultation we broaden inclusivity in built environment design. Designs which consider connection to Country not only stand to grow inter-cultural inclusivity, but inter-generational inclusivity. Dynamic design with Country can create spaces which are safe yet engaging, which encompass past, present and future, and ensure inclusivity for all community stakeholders.
Country is a continuum (past/present/future), and children are the future of this continuum, as such they need to be treated with respect as stakeholders. There is evidence that there is a major disconnect for some young people regarding their connection with Country. Murawin facilitated the Indigenous engagement for The State of Environment Report, which highlighted that we see this disconnect where there is ‘lack of access to Country’. In 2019, the National Indigenous Australians Agency shared that many Indigenous Australians feel that “disconnection from Country is considered a form of homelessness”. Young people experience trauma from this disconnect. Country is part of their families, but in more built-up areas there is a restriction to connection with it. Living in urban areas and cities can affect children’s connection, as their Country is part of them, but there is not an appropriate avenue to connect. By designing and planning spaces using Indigenous place strategy, we attempt to bring connection to Country into built environments, ensuring that the connection is not lost.