Australia-first research into First Nations and city planning

First Nations

The Greater Cities Commission (the Commission), in partnership with University of Newcastle’s Wollotuka Institute and the Institute for Regional Futures, has today launched the Partnering with First Nations Communities in City and Regional Planning research report.

This report highlights successful city planning partnerships with Indigenous communities internationally and offers recommendations for best practice partnering with Indigenous communities in urban planning.

Kuku Yalanji woman Natalie Walker, Social Commissioner for the Greater Cities Commission, noted the research would underpin the Commission’s work developing Australia’s first global multi-city region in New South Wales.

“What sets us apart from anywhere else in the world is that we are home to more than 65,000 years of continuous First Nations culture. We have this opportunity to embed the wisdom and learnings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders into our cities, and through this important research collaboration, we can learn from similar city planning projects across the globe,” Ms Walker said.

Highlighting the research’s important contribution to more inclusive city planning, the Wollotuka Institute’s Associate Professor Kathleen Butler noted the report points to clear examples of successful city planning with First Nations people.

“Through this partnership we have been able to explore the value of First Nations’ knowledge and care in city planning. We see words like sustainability being used, as if these were new ideas. In fact, we know that social, environmental, and spiritual sustainability is the foundation of Indigenous societies globally,” Associate Professor Butler said.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, noted the strong alignment between the University and the Commission, particularly in a shared commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We value the opportunity to work closely with the Greater Cities Commission and I am proud that the expertise of our University’s outstanding researchers are included in the report’s recommendations, which will be implemented into the work of the Commission,” Professor Zelinksy AO said.

“Our University has a proud history of partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and are committed to reconciliation. One of the key recommendations in this report is for staff working in regional planning to build their cultural capability from awareness towards responsiveness, just like we’re already doing at our University.”

The report focuses on four geographical areas: Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Canada and Sápmi (the lands of the Sámi peoples) and outlines challenges that have hampered Indigenous-inclusive planning.

The Greater Cities Commission is leading the strategic planning for a multi-city region that will be home to more than half of the First Nations population of New South Wales. To better reflect the needs and insights from these communities, the Commission is working closely with First Nations people through the newly established First Nations Advisory Panel and through ongoing engagement with First Nations partners across the six cities.

Read Partnering with First Nations Communities in City and Regional Planning.

Learn about the Greater Cities Commission’s research projects.