Cross-Cultural Construction Engineering with Aboriginal Communities

Cat Kutay, Baruk Gunay, Chris Tobin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review

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Context: Construction is an area where Aboriginal consultation have been carried out in a comprehensive process and with benefit to the community in terms of innovative designs, cultural experiences and improving sustainability in construction. We are engaging members of Aboriginal communities and engineers on their experiences with community consultations relating to sites, artefacts and construction in Sydney to support our students in understanding the complexity of these projects.

Purpose: We base our research on work by Rigney (2006) who discusses Indigenist Research; Kennedy et al. (2016) who work in appropriate Engineering processes; Cox (2014) who analyses health, wellbeing and IT projects; and other researchers. This has provided protocols for managing engagement with Aboriginal communities, but practitioners still find it difficult to envisage what is the process or protocols to be followed in a specific practice and how they can be implemented in a real context. Also, the benefits of productive consultations are not always promoted, yet these provide a positive perspective on cross-cultural work.

Approach: We are looking at case studies of how some construction projects in Sydney were managed when they impinged on Aboriginal cultural heritage. From this we extract common themes and link to this previous research. This will provide both practical examples and pragmatic steps for engagement with community. This will be expanded with an understanding of why these different protocols exist and why they are significant to the Aboriginal communities. Results: While the projects and the communities involved in consultation are very different, we find that the issues that are important for managing consultations and collaborative projects are consistent. They relate to the fundamental cultural values of the Aboriginal peoples involved and how these are reflected in construction projects. The resulting case examples are presented in a format suitable for practical examples in teaching Aboriginal knowledge to engineering students.

Conclusions: Expanded guidelines are developed to provide a more process-based approach to the area of Indigenous consultation and engagement in Engineering Management.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2018 (AAEE 2018)
Place of PublicationHamilton, New Zealand
PublisherEngineers Australia
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781925627367
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2018 - Hamilton, New Zealand
Duration: 9 Dec 201812 Dec 2018
Conference number: 29th


ConferenceAustralasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleAAEE 2018
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address


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