Trend Watch, September 2023

Three landscape architects share their thoughts on the Voice

History is calling as Australians head to the polls for a referendum on October 14, 2023, to vote on enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) said it encourages all members to “engage deeply with the available information, contemplate its implications, and arrive at an informed stance that aligns with your values and beliefs.

“As landscape architects, we often find ourselves at the intersection of nature, culture, politics and history, aiming to craft spaces that resonate with the stories and experiences of those who inhabit them. This unique position imparts a special responsibility upon us to be both informed and sensitive to the cultural dimensions of our work.”

AILA has compiled referendum resources.

Photo: Uluru Statement from the Heart, BrownHoneyAnt, Wikimedia Commons – an invitation from First Nations people to all Australians. The First Nations Voice is the first proposal from the Statement – read more.

Three landscape architects shared their thoughts on the Voice with StreetChat.

Global Design Director of ASPECT Studios, UTS Adjunct Professor, AILA and ASLA Fellow Sacha Coles:

I’m supporting the Voice to Parliament by voting yes because all steps towards closing the gap matter.

“I want us to acknowledge the impact of Australia’s colonisation and move forward together with pride that we are carried on the back of 65,000 years of continuous culture and care for Country.

“Let’s not lose this one opportunity to show that Australians can listen to advice on issues that affect our First Peoples and most importantly, that we can act to recognise and empower our First Nations brothers and sisters.

“It’s one step, but it’s an important recognition that we are moving forwards as a country united. It’s a YES from me to the Voice.”

Director of Land and Form, Ro Iyer:

“The Voice to Parliament is a significant moment in Australian history. It’s a moment for us as a community to follow up and deliver on previous promises and  move forward together to officially recognise and acknowledge our first peoples. A chance to show our respect for their history, their knowledge and to give them a real voice so in turn they can help us look after our country including its people and its environment in the face of population growth and the current climate crisis.

“The Voice to Parliament is the right step to take to close the gap and raise further awareness. It’s a forum which legitimises issues that significantly affect First Nations peoples which will require answering and actioning by the government and the Australian people, no more empty promises.

“By allowing the Voice to Parliament, we also truly acknowledge the Uluru Statement. We give the statement the respect it deserves and empower first nations people to have their own power over their future generations which is a significant thing considering the lack of choice most have had in the past.

“First Nations people simply seek to be heard and we could learn so much if we just listened. As landscape architects we could learn how to better protect our native flora and fauna during bush fires, flooding and extreme drought – all of which are becoming more erratic and severe with ongoing climate change. We could learn how to design better for our natural environment, how new communities can fit into these systems with less impact and how we can futureproof our parklands and open spaces, the way First Nations peoples have done for a very long time.

“It’s a significant step to stand together with our First Nations people and make decisions for the betterment of future generations.”

Associate Director of OCULUS, Claire Martin:

“I support the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart – Voice, Treaty and Truth. Supporting The Voice would be an important step nationally, as it has been in Victoria, through the First People’s Assembly and the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Designers of the built environment have a role to play in truth telling, to do that we must first listen and learn.

“The Voice to Parliament is the way all Australians are being asked to secure constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. If we want to Close the Gap and achieve meaningful, enduring change to people’s lives and livelihoods then it is important that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice be able to make representations to Parliament and Government on matters that relate to their communities. With practical initiatives that come from their communities.

“I feel privileged to be able to live in the country with the world’s longest continuous culture. But constitutional recognition is long overdue, and Australia is uniquely placed to be able to recognise and celebrate 65,000+ years of culture in our constitution. We can look back to look forward, and better listen to, and learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, from their knowledge and their resilience, to reimagine Australia’s fairer future.”

Oculus has compiled further information and resources.

How a public health approach to safety could save lives

Last year saw The Federal Highway Administrators claiming the New Jersey Department of Transport’s roadway safety campaign were ‘too cute’. Their flashing highway signs included messages: “we’ll be blunt – don’t drive high,” and “Get your head out of your apps.”

Governing’s Jared Brey writes about taking a public health approach as a more effective alternative strategy to saving lives on roadways.

He introduces: ‘The Safe Systems Pyramid: A new framework for traffic safety,’ a research paper lead by David Ederer and his team at Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota and University of California at Davis.

Ederer said engineers and policymakers can’t expect much progress from individuals changing their behaviour, rather he sees a public health approach as more effective.

Brey said, “The research builds on a widening recognition that systemic changes are needed to improve transportation safety.”

Ederer’s research demonstrates how the most effective strategies for safety are outside traffic engineers’ general scope.

“That includes important and politically difficult policies around affordable housing and land use, and safety strategies that acknowledge the uneven distribution of risk along racial and economic lines. It may be that for transportation engineers to be most effective, they should be promoting more compact built environments, which require less driving overall and therefore reduce people’s exposure to danger.” 

Read the full article on Governing.

Photo: Marek Kocjan on Wikimedia Commons.

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