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Leaders and representatives of the Engineering on Country (EoC) regional focus groups from nations around Australia gathered on Ngunnawal country, in Canberra, for an immersive weekend of learning and collaboration in January 2019. The aim? Develop the capacity of the EWB Australia EoC Knowledge Hub (KH) volunteers – made up of regional EoC focus groups – and empower the next generation of EWB Australia members within the EoC program to create positive change and contribute to the direction of EWB Australia’s EoC Strategy.

The learning and collaboration started months prior to the event, with each delegate grappling with pre-work by exploring questions such as; What is culture? How does this shape you as a person? What is development in Australia; and What are your personal theories of change?

Change self to change the world?

On Day 1, EoC KH chair, Angie Rozali, had us diving deep into a Theory of Change workshop, exploring the complexity of the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander context and the mechanisms we might personally use to promote change in our world. Do you – Change self to change the world? Use political advocacy? Direct action? With our minds stretched, we headed off to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for an afternoon of rich conversation and story sharing with those who had gathered there for the ‘Invasion Day/Australia Day weekend’.

Intersections and power structures

Days 2 and 3 involved an in-depth look at how EWB Australia approaches partnerships. We also disussed and ideated  on how we might, in our respective Knowledge Hubs, create a welcoming environment for members whilst being cognisant of intersections and power structures. Workshops were interspersed with region planning sessions for the year to come. We were fortunate enough to have a Welcome to Country by Mr Warren Daley, followed by a yarn touching on Warren’s knowledge of Ngunnawal country and an opportunity for us to ask questions about the topics we had been exploring over the weekend.

Cultivating cultural competency

Over the next six months regional EoC focus groups are working toward contributing to EWB Australia’s EoC strategy, and building the cultural competency of members – vital for us to effectively engage in EoC now and into the future. I would love to live in a world where all engineers seek to understand and continually learn about context and culture of the people on who’s land we live and work. That is exactly what is happening in the EoC KH.

Want to get involved?
Contact your local EoC focus group, look up the history of the country on which you live today, and whilst you’re at it… drop past a book shop to pick up a copy of Bruce Pascoe’s “Dark Emu” and learn about the original engineers of Australia!

Thank you to the EoC KH leaders who designed and led this extraordinary journey; Angie Rozali (EoC KH Chair), Leon Ross (NSW EoC Focus Group Co-coordinator), Vikram Sondergaard (ACT chapter), Anna Cain (Volunteer Outreach Lead) and Sam Palmer (ACT chapter).