Short presentations: 3rd City Communities

Fiona Robbé, Architects of Arcadia

Co Design with Children and Young People Regarding the Future of Urban Centres

Children are like an indicator species; if a city is good for children, it is good for everyone” (E. Penalosa).

It is more important than ever before to engage children and young people in the co-design of our future cities. Australia ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1990 which establishes the rights of children and young people to have a say in decisions that affect their lives.

Despite this, co-design with children and young people remains an elusive process.

Processes involving children and young people in the planning and design of our urban centres result in meaningful, delightful, and achievable outcomes. Children and young people are uncluttered optimists, full of immediate, fresh, creative solutions for vibrant city spaces.

We need to see children and young people as valuable, empowered citizens whose insights are vital to a more inclusive urbanism, reflective of everyone’s needs and aspirations.


Anne-Marie Pisani, Parks Victoria, Professor Margaret Somerville, University of Western Sydney, Aunty Jacinta Tobin, Darug Elder, Leanne Tobin, Darug Aboriginal artist and teacher

Connection to Country

‘Connection to Country’ is a term often coined by Indigenous Australians to describe their significant and complex cultural connection to landscape. ‘Connection to Country’ provides a model for ecology and sustainability in which human care for landscape is intrinsic and meaningful. This keynote explores a new paradigm for Australian landscape architecture practice, one that recognizes and incorporates Indigenous culture and knowledge systems. It does so by exploring the conference theme, ecology, from both an Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspective, bringing two voices and discourses into dialogue.

Professor Margaret Somerville, whose research investigates Indigenous understandings of Connection to Country, collaborates with Indigenous artist Leanne Tobin and her sister and singer song writer Jacinta Tobin from the Darug language group, whose work captures knowledge of and continuous cultural connection to place. Their collaboration addresses the network of rivers and their tributaries that form the veins of Western Sydney. As co-keynote speakers, their discussion will explore the idea of ‘Connection to Country’ and ecology in Australia, how this definition can be built through cross-cultural exchange, and how this exchange might shape Australian landscape architecture practice.

In recent years, a series of discussions and initiatives by AILA Victoria’s Connection to Country committee have explored and advocated for a new level of engagement with Indigenous culture and knowledge in Australian professional practice. The committee’s work has catalysed a discussion at the national level, raising a series of questions about the opportunities and responsibilities of landscape architects practicing on this continent. An introduction by Anne-Marie Pisani, Chair of the Connection to Country committee, will situate the keynote conversation in the context of Australia’s professional institute and its current initiatives.


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