In 2010, five Arup staff joined an EWB project team to provide improved water and sanitation for Kooma Traditional Owners Association (KTOAI) at their Murra Murra property, 800km west of Brisbane. The purpose of the project is to build a sustainable and culturally appropriate amenities block to cater for large groups of visitors.
In 2011, after a trip to Murra Murra to engage with KTOAI in identifying sustainable design objectives, a draft report was submitted outlining design recommendations. With the community accepting the report and contributing further valuable feedback in 2012, the project moved into final stages of design. Having now completed the majority of the design, the team has begun to apply for funding through private and publically funded community benefit schemes.
Once funding is secured, the team can finalise the design and begin consultation with local contractors and material suppliers with the goal of developing a strategy going forward into construction.
In 2000, two adjoining sheep and cattle stations, Murra Murra and Bendee Downs, were returned to the Kooma Traditional Owners Association Incorporated (KTOAI) through the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). These properties are located 800km west of Brisbane and have a combined area of approximately 86,000Ha. KTOAI wish to manage the land for cultural and environmental purposes, providing a place for the Kooma people to return to Country, and for sustainable business development.
The property has significant natural and conservation values. KTOAI have developed a property management plan that aims to restore the properties to good condition and improve the infrastructure for future use. One of the priority issues identified in the management plan is property remediation, including: land use, vegetation, and water resources.
Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) and KTOAI have been working together in formal partnership since 2008. The partnership was the first as part of EWB’s Reconciliation Action Plan, which now encompasses a number of partnerships across Australia and aims to overcome the inequalities currently experienced in terms of life expectancy, health, education, employment, justice and self-determination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. The partnership with KTOAI has focused on two-way learning, of both EWB volunteers and the Kooma people, and is in line with EWB’s development philosophy.
A major milestone was reached in the partnership when, in 2009, EWB and KTOAI celebrated the installation of a 10kW solar panel system at Bendee Downs to provide the adjoining properties with a sustainable source of electricity.
In 2010, KTOAI approached EWB with thoughts of a project to improve water and sanitation at their Murra Murra property. Their aim was to build a sustainable and culturally appropriate amenities block that could cater for large groups of visitors. Consequently, a team was formed to produce a scoping report for the amenities block. This involved a trip to Murra Murra to work closely with KTOAI in identifying design objectives for the project, and in 2011, a draft report was submitted to KTOAI, outlining the initial design recommendations. This initial team was predominantly volunteers from Arup, as part of their corporate partnership with EWB.
With the community accepting the report recommendations, as well as contributing valuable feedback, the project is now moving into the final stages of design. It is hoped that the final design may be presented to KTOAI during the EWB partnership renewal, to take place in July on Kooma property. With the recent addition of a Project Manager and a Quantity Surveyor, the project team has grown in preparation for construction, which is hoped to begin in late 2012, before the wet season.
Engineers Australia has played a positive role supporting this project, contributing $10,000 to EWB’s costs of supporting volunteers to work with the Kooma community in project delivery. KTOAI is still in the process of securing funding for the construction of this project.
Anyone who is interested in following the project or supporting KTOAI is encouraged to head to www.ewb.org.au/explore/initiatives/amenitiesproject to find out more. Here you will also find information on the various programs that EWB is running and how you can get involved.The Murra Murra Amenities project is a collaboration between Arup, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and the Kooma Traditional Owners Association Incorporated (KTOAI). The project will deliver an amenities (toilet and shower) block for the Murra Murra homestead to address the environmental and cultural issues on site and the limited infrastructure capacity.
On the 26th of August 2011, a group of EWB and Arup volunteers embarked on an epic journey to the Queensland outback. After a 10 hour drive from Brisbane, including 50km of dirt track, the group arrived at Murra Murra, a remote aboriginal homestead.
The volunteers mission was to scope the two amenities blocks and also to learn from the Traditional Owners of the community about their land, history, culture and visions for the future of Murra Murra.
A multidisciplinary team
The mixed team included structural engineers, a geotechnical engineer, a hydrogeologist, and a project manager from EWB and Arup. Together we conducted a series of activities in close liason with the community to scope out the remaining details of the project. These included: pegging out the locations of the amenities blocks, dynamic cone penetration tests for foundation design, and the digging of a number of pits through very difficult ground for the design and selection of the appropriate waste water management system.
During our short stay at Murra Murra the volunteers also particpated in the Kooma Green School Program which was organised by the Green Institute of Australia, and gave the volunteers the opportunity to explore Kooma Country and develop a greater understanding of issues confronting the Traditional Owners.
The green school also gave us a window to discuss with figures in the industry, sensitive issues surrounding the Murray Darling Basin, climate change and carbon trading.
We have received very positive feedback from the community and are currently in the process of finalising the design layout. We are also actively seeking avenues for funding the latter stages of the project.
An awesome long weekend was had by all. We are now finalising the design for construction and look forward to the benefits this will provide for the community.
KTOAI wish to manage the land for cultural and environmental purposes, providing a place for the Kooma people to return to Country, and for sustainable business development.