Taylor Burrell Barnett

Closing the Gap Yarn with Marcia Langton and Duncan Ord


Ben De Marchi

16 Oct 2023

TBB’s recent TBB Talks event was focused on helping our team and clients grow their understanding of the challenges facing First Nations peoples in relation to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, especially how it relates to planning and development.

On 7 September 2023, TBB hosted a special edition of its popular TBB Talks series – ‘Closing the Gap Yarn’ at the Manjaree Room at Dexus Place Perth. The 50+ attendees at the session included those from the state government, development industry, planning profession, and a number of Aboriginal community leaders.

After an introduction to the session topics and a summary of Taylor Burrell Barnett’s own journey of reconciliation by Director Ben De Marchi, a Welcome to Country was performed by Nick Abrahams which provided an enlightened overview of connection to culture, values and land.

Our guest speakers for the session were Professor Dr Marcia Langton AO and Duncan Ord OAM, who provided an insightful mix of their experience and knowledge to a range of questions posed by Ben and the audience.

Using the Closing the Gap outcomes and targets as inspiration to guide the discussion, the topics particularly explored challenges and ideas related to how:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can secure appropriate affordable housing that is aligned with their priorities and need (Outcome 9); and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can maintain a distinctive cultural, spiritual, physical and economic relationship with their land and waters (Outcome 15).

The attendees gained the benefit of Marcia, alongside other Aboriginal guests in the audience, sharing their views on how the design and delivery of policies and programs in the housing and health areas affect them.

Duncan's valuable insights, reflections and possible solutions on the planning challenges we have faced, and continue to face today, provided excellent food for thought.

When discussing how Indigenous settlement design could be better considered in housing developments, Marcia recommended a book by Paul Memmott. The book is called Gunyah Goondie + Wurley - The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia and it showcases the flourishing Indigenous design practices reshaping Australia's architectural landscape.

Marcia also highlighted an Aboriginal community success story – the Mapoon community situated on the traditional lands of the Tjungundji people in Far North Queensland.

Some of the audiences’ key takeaways included:

  • That Aboriginal people and communities must be intrinsically involved in projects to ensure success.
  • That planning needs to be better tailored to address the needs and wants of First Nations peoples.
  • The importance of the role that planning and development play in the future benefit sharing for Indigenous people.
  • That planning and development associated with Aboriginal culture must work with Aboriginal people through increased levels of stakeholder roles, involvement and overall decision-making outcomes.
  • That there is a lack of Indigenous aged-care providers and this is something that needs to be addressed given the relevant concerns some elders may have in relation to some faith based age care providers and the Stolen Generations.
  • That we need to focus on developing a greater understanding and that we need to have Aboriginal-controlled organisations facilitating housing solutions for Aboriginal people.

We wish to thank the speakers and attendees for joining us for this TBB Talks and we look forward to growing our understanding of this important topics as we continue in our Reconciliation Action Plan journey.


Ben De Marchi