- Article by Natalie Mortimer
The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) has launched its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) following a year of collaborative work by AILA’s Connection to Country Committee.
The Reflect RAP aims to facilitate the development of a deeper level of respect from its members and staff for Traditional Custodians and their relationship with the landscape. It focuses on 15 actions in the key areas of Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Governance, and will be implemented over the next 12 months through state chapter led events and the ongoing sharing of information.
“As built environment professionals who engage with land, places, cultures, history, people, natural systems and built context, landscape architects seek to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. The development of AILA’s RAP allows us to better advocate for a ‘Connection to Country’ approach to landscape planning, design and management on all our projects, in varying contexts and across many scales,” says AILA president Linda Corkery.
“AILA is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse profession by encouraging and supporting our members to expand their cultural awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
“The AILA Board overwhelmingly supports the ‘Connection to Country’ Committee who have been responsible for progressing the Reconciliation Action Plan initiative. We will continue to lay the foundation for the Institute’s ongoing support for action and leadership on Reconciliation.”
AILA’s Connection to Country Committee comprises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Ambassadors, AILA members and staff from across Australia.
Aunty Ruby Sims, a Wangerriburra and Mununjali elder, commended the Connection to Country Committee for the culturally sensitive approach taken when developing the RAP, which enabled her and other cultural ambassadors to have a meaningful input to its construct.
“The goodwill of everyone on the Committee, and the way in which our relationships have been established allow for respect of cultural protocols. It was an innovative approach,” she says.
Rueben Berg, a Gunditjmara man, graduate architect and founder and director of Indigenous Architecture Victoria said that it was great to see the AILA recognising the importance of engaging with and understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
“The RAP will provide a great opportunity for the industry to embed thinking about our culture into everyday practice and increasing the involvement of our people in this industry.”
Paul Herzich, a Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri man from South Australia and an AILA registered landscape architect, created the artwork for the Reflect RAP. The artwork illustrates the 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the 200 or so years of non-indigenous cultures as white and blue stars above the Country.