Connecting with Country

Feb 2, 2023

Murawin Connect with Country

The Connecting with Country Draft Framework is a gift to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, an invitation to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future” (Architect AU) similarly to that of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, says Government Architect NSW Principal architect and Framework co-author Dillon Kombumerri.

Government Architect NSW created the framework “for developing connections with Country that can inform the planning, design, and delivery of built environment projects in New South Wales”. Murawin supports Kombumerri’s thoughts and the implementation of the Framework into all built environment work.

Kombumerri shares his thoughts that “it’s within the nature of our industry to want to get to design as quickly as we can. However, before we can design for Country, we must start with understanding who Country is and how to connect with her”.

Place Strategy is a core service of Murawin and in order to support our clients in this arena we have developed the Barri Marruma (which literally means PlaceMaking in Dunghutti language) approach which draws not just the Connecting with Country Framework but a range of other methods to support regenerative design and urban planning. Our work draws on the Connecting with Country Framework which is being employed by various government agencies to inform their own built environment projects. We believe this Framework is crucial and a key step for all states and territories in Australia to create, to ensure that our built environments are informed by First Nations principles, values and connection with Country. 

The implementation of this Framework has three main long-term strategic goals: 

  • Reduce the impacts of natural events such as fire, drought, and flooding through sustainable land and water use practices. 
  • Value and respect Aboriginal cultural knowledge with Aboriginal people co-leading design and development of all NSW infrastructure projects. 
  • Ensure Country is cared for appropriately and sensitive sites are protected by Aboriginal people having access to their homelands to continue their cultural practices.   

The Connecting with Country Framework was created with experiences and knowledge largely from specific Countries within the Sydney basin and surrounding areas. “The principles and framework that follow reflect an emphasis on this part of NSW and we acknowledge that further work is required to determine the appropriateness of these principles and framework for the other Countries of NSW” (Government Architect NSW). As such the implementation of a similar framework in other states and territories must have a considered approach. Appropriate engagement and facilitation of dialogue with First Nations people from respective Countries within these states and territories, is crucial for an effective, respectful, and successful framework.

Kombumerri states that listening can be challenging in the industry, but the framework offers a way to listen and reflect on thousands of years of practices and tradition of First Nations people caring for Country. The Framework shares another challenge for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the industry, to step out of their comfort zone and be open to other ways of recognising and receiving knowledge”. Murawin urges you to accept the invitation and to join us on a path to Connecting with Country.

“We are all, always on Country”. (Government Architect NSW).


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