Coinciding with National Reconciliation Week, Hassell’s Hannah Galloway and Kat Rodwell have released a two-part podcast that explores the concept of listening to and designing with Country.

Released as part of the practice’s Hassell Talks series, the podcast is titled Country’s voice is loud and clear: are designer’s listening?

Galloway, a Landscape Architect at the practice alongside First Nations Consultant and Cultural Advisor Rodwell look to provide architects with a framework for embedding First Nations narratives into the built environment.

The pair detail within each episode that the art of listening is crucial to creating outstanding design outcomes. Listening to Country and First Nations culture will result in deep and meaningful connections with the land and its people.

“We say, ​‘don’t walk on eggshells, because you’re holding back,’” says Rodwell.​

“If you really want to learn something, ask…  When we (are) on this learning journey together we walk together. It means raw truth telling. Ask those questions because it’s the only way we’re going to move forward.”

Rodwell and Galloway speak on a number of ways that individuals, organisations and communities can listen, learn and connect in First Nations cultural engagement. A number of them, floated by Rodwell, sit below.

  • Know whose Country you are on. In Perth you’re on Whadjuk Country. In central Melbourne you’re on Wurundjeri Country. Do your research.
  • Ask permission to walk on Country. Whether it be a phone call or email, announce the intention of the project, list the companies and people who are seeking permission and provide a brief about the project.
  • Give time. The idea is to talk, yarn and connect. Give at least four weeks for a consultation and ask could we meet? It’s not about you telling us what time you want to meet.
  • Research the background of the Country you are on, the lore and the language. Learn the local First Nations words for hello, thank you and see-you-later and if appropriate, use them where you can.
  • Ask first. If in doubt, always ask permission. Do we call you Auntie and Uncle? Is it okay if we do?
  • Please be respectful. Remember we may not have all the knowledge you require. It wasn’t that long ago that we weren’t allowed to speak our language. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people were forcibly taken from their families, their community and their culture to assimilate into white culture. Many cultural stories, practices and languages were lost. But not by choice.
  • Walk together – without walking on eggshells – toward shared knowledge and reconciliation.

Hassell says the podcast episodes form part of its wider reconciliation journey. The practice says it commits to respectfully listen to, learn with, and advocate for Australia’s first people.

To listen to the two-part podcast, click here.

Image: Hassell’s concept for Town Hall Place, Melbourne, developed by Lendlease.