Aboriginal Stakeholder Engagement

The Client
Project Team
Flavia Kiperman
Director / Principal - Heritage
Nerida Moredoundt
Expert Advisor - Heritage
Carmel Given
Associate - Heritage
Cath Blake-Powell
Principal - Engagement
Hayley Sellman
Consultant - Engagement
The Project

We have developed a new methodology in recent years where we approach every project in accordance with ‘Kaart, koort waarnginy = Head, heart, talking: Aboriginal Engagement Framework.’ (DevelopmentWA, 2019) and with reference to the Noongar (Koorah, Nitja, Boordahwan) (Past, Present, Future) Recognition Act 2016. As part of our Reconciliation Action Plan 2021/22 (RAP) we make sure that our heritage projects adhere to these guidelines.

Our Role

Local Heritage Surveys

There is an emerging movement in Western Australia to recognise both Aboriginal and Historic cultural heritage of places, and a growing trend towards truth telling and dual naming.  There are many examples of places where the cultural heritage of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people intersect and where recognition under both the Heritage Act 2018 and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 may be warranted or has already eventuated. element is leading the way in this approach. We know how to navigate the complexities and will guide local governments who are updating their Local Heritage Surveys and considering new ways to manage their heritage.

element project examples include the City of Canning and the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, where places with a shared history have been included in their recent Local Heritage Surveys.

Conservation Management Plans

All of our recent management plans have revisited the approach to history and have been made inclusive of Deep Time, and included engagement with Elders and knowledge holders of the specific project place. As part of these projects we advocate for dual naming and other inclusive policies which bring contemporary landholders and the traditional owners together in a spirit of reconciliation.

element project examples include the Rottnest Island Wadjemup, Cultural Landscape Management Plan (Client: Rottnest Island Authority) and Strawberry Hill Barmup, Cultural Landscape Management Plan (Client: National Trust of WA); both which included dual naming. We have also ensure the inclusivity of pre-colonial through to contemporary history of Noongar people in recent heritage management plans for the City of Perth, such as Stirling Gardens, Queens Gardens and Perth Town Hall.

Interpretation Strategies

In many places, the cultural heritage values held by Aboriginal people are intangible, and we work with Elders to workshop interpretation strategies to draw out these values.  We encourage our clients to begin their projects by asking our Elders to speak a Welcome to Country on site, and then organise yarning sessions to listen and record the intangible values, so that they can be captured and inspire new ways of interpretation. In this way a new development or adaptive-reuse project can express and convey these values through strategies such as dual naming, landscaping, signage, public art, and numerous other opportunities. element project examples include Shoreline Stage 4 North Coogee (Client: DevelopmentWA) and Swan River Crossings (Client: Main Roads WA).


There is no standard brief or guidelines for the best practice approach to the assessment and management of Aboriginal heritage sites. To counter this, we have developed a Heritage Framework and refined an approach through project experience to help our clients navigate the numerous statutory requirements and complexities of Aboriginal heritage sites, archaeological and ethnographic surveys, and development applications if necessary. element project examples include the City of Wanneroo Heritage Framework and our Local Government Heritage Toolkit.


We work collaboratively with our clients to encourage respect for First Nations people. We help to develop and create a sense of place through the concept of story as well as the built form. We advocate for our clients to engage with the right people for the place as early as possible. Following the right cultural protocols ensures cultural safety and as part of our new approach we collaborate with Aboriginal sub-consultants to co-facilitate engagement at critical points throughout the life of a project.

What We Delivered

We can provide advice about the transition between the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 and the differences that may impact our clients’ upcoming projects.

Call element 9829 8300 or email hello@elementwa.com.au and speak to a member of the Heritage or Engagement teams.

Related Projects

East Fremantle Post Office (FMR)
The Ranges, Karratha Social Impact Assessment
City of Stirling Public Art Masterplan