Skip to Main Content

Engineering Humanitarian Design Challenge 2023: Remote WA Communities

Remote WA Communities

Australia is a large country with a relatively small population who are primarily concentrated in a small number of main urban centres, but around 28% of the Australian population live outside of major cities in areas classified as “rural and remote”. Distance and isolation pose an additional set of challenges to these rural and remote communities in Australia. These remote communities are not homogeneous, and each has a unique set of issues that affect the life and wellbeing of its members. It is also important to note that many of these remote and rural communities are home to significant populations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as a large number aged 65 and over, presenting another set of challenges.

Students are expected to identify and research a remote community in The Pilbara, WA that could benefit from their design, and to explore and fully consider its context as the design concept is developed. Teams are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local environment and culture. They need to recognise and discover the relevant challenges and also the opportunities that may impact their design. Teams will also need to assess their proposal based on the design requirements presented in this document.

Community and governance

Part of the landmark 1993 Native Title Act, the ‘law passed by the Australian Parliament that recognises the rights and interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs’, outlines the requirement for a Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) to be established for management, representation, and decision-making purposes.

Guided by the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2006 (CATSI Act), the group must then be registered with and will receive support from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).

The structure and membership of a PBC is usually reflective of traditional clan or family groupings or decision-making structures. The board of directors is often complimented by a council of elders in some form (formally or informally) who provide guidance and oversight in recognition of traditional decision-making protocols.

Consider further research around native title, governance, and management systems as you begin thinking about the context your design proposal sits within.

Key background you can assume within your project proposal

Centre for Appropriate Technology staff have recognised a common framework of the requirements to live on Country. You might consider how these areas interact with your specific project as you develop your design idea. Living comfortably on Country requires, broadly:

  • Clean water supply with a back up system
  • Reliable power supply
  • An appropriately designed dwelling
  • Fans
  • Large, reliable refrigeration for extended food storage
  • Year round emergency access
  • An internet connection or other means of telecommunication

Inherently linked to these themes are the ‘Design Considerations’ such as reliability and materials choice.

Resources about remote WA communities:

Statistical Information

Census publications include reports on people, economy, and agriculture.

Statistical information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples more generally.

General statistical information about healthcare and sanitation in Australia from the World Health Organization.