A Reflection on Reconciliation Week from the AILA Connection to Country Committee

Reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians.


It is an ongoing journey that reminds us that while generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort.

In celebration of National Reconciliation we, the AILA Connection to Country Committee challenge all AILA Members to “Be Brave. Make Change” and encourage everyone to listen and reflect – not just during Reconciliation Week, but every week.  

We ask you to make that extra effort to be brave in your everyday actions. Make change in the way you practice.

We invite members to build cultural courage, be willing to feel and name strong and uncomfortable emotions, knowing this will strengthen your confidence in learning and collaborating.

Reconciliation is an individual journey – by getting out there, asking questions and learning more about our shared cultures, histories and our achievements - we can make change for the better. 

AILA’s Reconciliation Action Plan

AILA is an active and vocal supporter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their deep spiritual connection to Country and cultures, recognising they are the original custodians of our lands and waters and have a unique ability to care for Country. As landscape architects Country is often our canvas, therefore we have a responsibility to learn, respect and connect with our First Peoples’.  In 2018, AILA launched our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.   Over the last few years, the Connection to Country Committee together with our Cultural Ambassadors have collaboratively achieved many fantastic outcomes, including:

AILA’s collaborative work with their Cultural Ambassadors
AILA’s Constitution has been amended to include the addition of an Acknowledgement of Country
AILA’s ‘Connection to Country’ Position Statement, including a compilation of case studies that demonstrate best practice
AILA’s developed an “Indigenous Knowledge in The Built Environment: A guide for Tertiary Teachers”
AILA now acknowledging, promoting and encouraging members to attend National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week events.  AILA recognises attendance as contributing to annual CPD
AILA actively supporting state and territory chapters in developing local CtC committees to better connect to local members and increase awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, peoples’ and histories
We are excited to announce we will be continuing on our journey of Reconciliation into the next phase, with the commencement and co-design of our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan with our AILA Cultural Ambassadors.  We invite all members to actively reflect on your journey and thoughts on “Be Brave. Make Change” either with a colleague, a friend, or through Memberscape. 

“Be Brave. Make Change” Personal Reflection by Anne-Marie Pisani AILA

Sitting here on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people of the Eastern Kulin Nation I reflect on this year’s theme of “Be Brave. Make Change.” and my personal journey of Reconciliation so far.

A life changing experience of walking Country with the Goolarabooloo people of Broome (as a 1st year LA student), where learning about their Country, their people and their culture played a significant role in my passion for wanting to learn and understand more about the strong connection that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples have with their Country, and how this understanding could guide the way we live and work. Being brave was to immerse myself into this landscape that was totally foreign to me, and with people and a culture that I knew hardly anything about. Making change is through continuously advocating to all of the upmost importance of enabling self-determination through ensuring First Peoples’ voices are not only being heard, but are being invited to lead conversations and speak for themselves from the outset.

Earlier this week I was involved in a shared presentation with my fellow work colleagues from across Australia where we reflected on the respectful and culturally response processes we are undertaking across a diverse range of projects, with the shared outcomes being achieved through a co-design process. Seeing a seismic shift in cultural awareness and understandings over the last few short years fills me with real excitement of the potential for Landscape Architects to achieve an overall high level of cultural awareness and responsiveness.

“Be Brave. Make Change” Personal Reflection by Nicole Croudace FAILA

Kaya / Hello

I am writing this message on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja.  We are currently in the season of Djeran the season of renewal, when the hot and dry days are in the past and the cool weather invites flourishes of red flowering gums and bold banksia flowers, reflecting change in the landscape.

I have been fortunate to have started my journey over 15 years ago on Wadjemup with a special Uncle Noel, who opened my eyes to the vast and inspiring Noongar culture and ways to Care for Country. He did this by sharing his stories and his knowledge. 

I reflect on this time on Country with Uncle Noel often, as a reminder that I was fortunate to have this experience and make this deep spiritual connection which inspired a drive to embed inclusive co-design into the way I approach project delivery.  

Today I was fortunate to attend a Cultural Awareness training session for a major infrastructure project, the knowledge shared, and questions raised reminded me that everyone is at a different stage in their journey, and we are all learning and engaging through different ways.  Key to growing and journey development is knowledge sharing, so I thought I would share a key phrase which has stayed with me for many years.  If I am ever in doubt, I always think this and the answer is clear - “Nothing about us, without us.”

Image: Ngajarli by Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) and Circle of Elders, on the Country of Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Yaburara, Mardudhunera, Woon-goo-tt-oo (collectively known as Ngarda-Ngarli). Photo by Fuzz Digital.