Connecting with Country

Connecting with Country

Being connected in times past would most likely mean being in touch with family and friends, perhaps keeping up appearances at family events and being part of a community of interest be it a particular organisation or church or professional association.  Perhaps the most immediate thought that comes to mind in this day and age is being connected to the internet by having access to a computer or other digital device via which social media is accessed.  

But there is a deeper connection that we all once shared in one way or another.  It was a connection with the land since we were essentially rural dwellers living on farms or in close knit rural communities.  Before that of course we now realise that indigenous people were connected not only with land, but what they called ‘country’, which was a concept that included all aspects of the living and non-living world.  Geodiversity and biodiversity were taken as givens.  While these are new ideas for many of us, they were part and parcel of what being human was, and in many respects still is.

Acknowledging this reality, the NSW government has released a discussion paper titled: Connecting with Country Draft Framework.

Constant change requires us to continuously reimagine our way of living. And this way of thinking about renewal and change requires leadership and willingness to challenge business-as-usual practices within government.

Connecting with Country Draft Framework aims to develop connections with Country that can inform the planning, design, and delivery of built environment projects in NSW.

The ambition of Connecting with Country is that everyone who is involved in delivering government projects will adopt the following commitment:

Through our projects, we commit to helping support the health and wellbeing of Country by valuing, respecting, and being guided by Aboriginal people, who know that if we care for Country – it will care for us.

The ambition of the commitment to improving health and wellbeing of Country is to help realise three long-term strategic goals:

    • reduce the impacts of natural events such as fire, drought, and flooding through sustainable land and water use practices
    • value and respect Aboriginal cultural knowledge with Aboriginal people co-leading design and development of all NSW infrastructure projects
    • ensure Country is cared for appropriately and sensitive sites are protected by Aboriginal people having access to their homelands to continue their cultural practices.

Connecting with Country Draft Framework is intended to be the starting point to improve and inform better processes that will help to achieve these goals and to deliver on the Connecting with Country commitments that are outlined in the document. The document aims to help all of us – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people – to work together collectively, respectfully, and with open minds to unite our complementary knowledge. It will be tested and piloted as a framework over a 12-month period with further input and guidance sought from Aboriginal communities across NSW.

Connecting with Country is informed largely by the experiences and knowledges of people who work on, and are from, Countries in and around the Sydney basin. As such, the principles and framework that follow reflect an emphasis on this part of NSW and we acknowledge that further work is required to determine the appropriateness of these principles and framework for the other Countries of NSW. Government does not speak for Country in the sense that word is understood by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We express our deep gratitude to all the individuals and communities who have contributed to the development of this draft framework to date.

Watch webinar videos here: Connecting with Country, Engaging with cultural landscapes

Read the full document at this link: Connecting with Country