Ngaragu woman Ash Barty’s thrilling Wimbledon win 50 years after her friend and mentor, Wiradjuri superstar Evonne Goolagong Cawley AC MBE, first won the title ensured this year’s NAIDOC week will be unforgettable.
It was an inspiring triumph, alongside that of fellow champion Dylan Alcott who won his second Wimbledon title.
But why as an architect, am I going on about sport you might ask?
Because this was about more than just athletic prowess.
About more than grace, humility and the realisation of childhood dreams that sparked an outpouring of national pride.
It was the most perfect end conceivable to a week celebrating First Nations’ history, culture and achievement – all things Ash Barty’s momentous victory highlighted in the most compelling way.
This year’s NAIDOC theme – Heal Country! – was both a timely and powerful call to action.
And it’s one that must endure for longer than just a week.
The climate crisis – and lacklustre efforts from our federal government to address it – makes healing and protecting Country more urgent than ever.
At home we’ve seen fire and floods ravage communities.
Looking overseas, it is with horror that we witness unprecedented heatwaves in parts of Canada and Northern America, claiming lives and destroying habitat at a frightening scale.
The call to Heal Country is one that architects are heeding. And we are doing it through deeper and more meaningful engagement with First Nations people than ever before.
The members of the Institute’s First Nations Advisory Working Group and Cultural Reference Panel are leading this vitally important work, for which I express our collective gratitude.
The Working Group, with support from the Panel, is providing guidance on the inclusive involvement of First Nations peoples in both architectural education and practice and also across the Institute’s services, programs, activities and governance.
Their expertise, alongside that of our Climate Action and Sustainability Taskforce, has been critical in shaping the new National Standard of Competency for Architects which now enshrines a greater focus on sustainability and more meaningful engagement with First Nations peoples.
This was a significant milestone that followed the enormous amount of work they did leading up to the adoption in the Institute’s constitution earlier this year of a Statement of Recognition.
NAIDOC week is an important reminder of how vital it is to centre First Nations voices if we are serious about achieving meaningful change.
We are fortunate to have the Working Group and Panel’s leadership guiding us as we work together to heal Country.
Thank you for everything you do.