New book connects urban planners to Indigenous communities

A new book revealing the critical role planning plays in delivering land justice for Indigenous peoples will be launched today at RMIT by Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson.

Planning for Coexistence? is a world-first study on the experiences of Indigenous communities in Australia and Canada by Associate Professor Libby Porter, from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, and Assistant Professor Janice Barry, from University of Manitoba, Canada.

Porter says the book points to the need for a disruption to standard planning practices and conventional methods; and that she wants a new generation of planners to recognise the continuing connection and authority of Indigenous peoples on whose lands planners are working.

“We want this book to provide a highly critical and grounded analysis of what the problems are, but also show how it might be different,” Porter said.

The authors have compiled rich case studies of Indigenous peoples’ everyday experience of urban and environmental planning in the book, via collaboration with Melbourne’s Wurundjeri Council and the northern Victorian Wadi Wadi community, as well as the Gitanyow Huwilp and Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia.

Barry says the book encourages practitioners, researchers, analysts and policymakers to engage in a much more conscious way in developing meaningful, long-term collaborative partnerships with Indigenous communities.

“The communities provided us with examples that were very instructive and something that we felt Indigenous community leaders, planning practitioners and academics could really learn from,” she said.

“We hope the book becomes an important resource for planning education, as the accrediting bodies do not often discuss issues and responsibilities related to Indigenous self-determination.”

Porter said: “Learning from the very different places discussed in the book is really important and for us, these Indigenous communities had such starkly different experiences and we wanted the research to be able to teach others from these stories.”

“We hope the book starts new conversations across the planning and environment professions about what it will take to work differently, and support the principle of self-determination for Indigenous peoples.”

The book is available through publisher Routledge.


For interviews: Associate Professor Libby Porter 9925 3585 or 0487 177 859.

For general media enquiries: Chanel Bearder 9925 0917 or 0432 140 673.

  • Header image: Congratulations to Libby Porter (middle) on the launch of her new book: Planning for Coexistence launched by Stacey Campton from the RMIT Ngarara Willim Indigenous Centre, RMIT and Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson.