Yuin woman Kaylie Salvatori, one of Arcadia’s student landscape architects and recipient of the 2018 UNSW Built Environment Arcadia Landscape Architecture Scholarship for Indigenous Students has acknowledged the influence of the many strong Indigenous women that have helped her reach her final year of Landscape Architecture at UNSW.

Like many Indigenous students coming to university, Salvatori says she was looking to embark on a career path that could make a positive difference for the community and the environment. However, from the outset, Salvatori realised there was a lack of inclusion and focus on Indigenous participation and traditional knowledge, and she is looking forward to being a part of a growing community looking to change this.

“I love that I’m studying a discipline that provides the opportunity to pursue artistic endeavours, whilst being a social and environmental agent of positive change. Central to the belief of Caring for Country is that people can’t survive without country, and vice versa – the country needs the careful management of people to survive,” says Salvatori.

“Contrary to many commonly held beliefs, Australia was not a wilderness, it’s actually a carefully crafted landscape which has benefited from thousands of years of Aboriginal stewardship. This includes elements such as controlled burnings and hunts, subtle care taken with planting and a soft touch,” she says.

Salvatori will shortly be undertaking research under UNSW, with Dharug Elders, on Yarning and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, with a view to incorporating research into the Landscape Architecture curriculum.

“Similar to careers in law and social work, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities have a lot to gain from higher Indigenous representation within Landscape Architecture,” says Salvatori.

“I am hoping that one day Landscape Architecture will be a popular choice for Indigenous people looking for artistic careers, whilst also acting as social and environmental advocates. For me, working in this field offers a symbolic reclamation of environmental stewardship, and I love the possibility to influence the way our country is developed,” she says.