The Murama Healing Space, Sydney Olympic Park: key learnings from an Indigenous-led engagement at a site of urban adaptive re-use
The Murama Healing Space at the heritage-listed Newington Armory site, Sydney Olympic Park is an example of urban adaptive re-use that aims to promote health and wellbeing for Indigenous youth and all who visit. The only Indigenous-led collaboration between an Indigenous Cultural Council and a state government authority in Western Sydney, the Murama Healing Space represents progress towards greater Indigenous self-determination in the design and implementation of an urban health initiative. It is also an example of the reinterpretation of heritage practice by including an Indigenous narrative in the layered history of the site. Using a more-than-human frame, this project sought to understand how an Indigenous engagement method describes a different way to ‘do/think/know’ an urban site of adaptive re-use. Research questions and methods were selected via a collaborative process between researcher/Institution and Indigenous leader/community. Thirteen semi-structured interviews, a focus group, reviews of key documents and videographic records, photos and site observations provided data for qualitative analysis. Results were grouped into several categories and two overarching themes. The results suggest the engagement method at the Murama Healing Space reflected a different ontological approach towards an urban site of adaptive re-use. Findings are discussed in relation to each of the research questions, with implications for urban health planning and Indigenous-led collaborations that include deeper, authentic cross-cultural learning, place-based care work, and a situated and ontologically pluralistic response to healing on urban Country. Key learnings for policy makers and leaders are listed.