Architects advocate for self-determination by Australia’s First Peoples

FRIDAY 2 JUNE

The Australian Institute of Architects supports calls to strengthen the decision-making power of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

National President, Richard Kirk, said National Reconciliation Week provides an opportunity for all Australians to consider how we can close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians and be more inclusive in the way we offer solutions.

‘Indigenous tradition, culture and heritage must be recognised at the highest levels and Australia’s First Peoples must be involved in all decisions made about their communities,’ Kirk said.

‘There must be meaningful community decision-making power in the procurement of Indigenous housing, to ensure the best fit for purpose outcomes and to obtain community benefit beyond the immediate goal of ‘bricks and mortar’.

‘Despite commitments from various state, territory and federal governments, the standard of Indigenous housing and essential infrastructure remains well below that available to the non-Indigenous population.

‘As well as building more housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and better maintaining existing stock, housing decisions must belong to local communities and job creation must be a central consideration in this process.

The Australian Institute of Architects’ National Council adopted an Indigenous Housing Policy at its biannual meeting earlier this month. The policy clearly states the need for a strong Indigenous voice in the creation of housing policy to ensure community ownership of the decisions that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘We must develop a diversity of dwelling types and tenancy options to meet the needs of a diverse population and to provide the same economic options to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are available to non-Indigenous Australians,’ Kirk said.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander architects and non-Indigenous architects have dedicated themselves to understanding the complexities around culture and design so that Indigenous housing can be addressed differently to the past. The Institute’s new policy will provide direction to the architectural profession about how best to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as part of their work and provides a sensible set of principles by which governments can manage their Indigenous housing programs.’