Master Planning in Remote Indigenous Communities

Urbi Winsome Terry of wildPLAN presented at the 2019 ‘Stimulating Growth in Small Centres: NQ Experiences’ Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Conference, hosted by the Tropical North Queensland chapter of PIA.

Urbi’s presentation discussed the notions of growth in the context of planning within remote indigenous communities. Her particular focus was the examination of the implications in applying western notions of growth at the expense of Indigenous perspectives of living in country. 

Urbi spoke to the Planning Act 2016, and its purpose to achieve ecological sustainability, which in turn incorporates economic development of which ‘growth’ is inextricably linked.  However, ‘growth’ is a predominantly western economic ideal, and ‘growth’ isn’t necessarily on the agenda for a remote Indigenous community and instead, ‘liveability’ was often the primary focus.

In working across a number of remote Indigenous communities, Urbi reinforced that:

  • Every community and place is different – and not all places face the challenges of growth or seek growth
  • It’s important to listen to and understand the aspirations of each community
  • Appropriate engagement methods are key, and with a focus on listening
  • Be conscious of our own bias when we’re practicing planning across all communities
  • Think beyond managing ‘growth’ and be sure to plan for other community aspirations
  • Think about the whole – take a birds eye view.

– wildPLAN