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Signatory Story: Hames Sharley putting Culture first

Working with First Nations people in Newman led to a light bulb moment for national architecture, urban design and planning studio Hames Sharley. In fact, working with the Nyiyaparli Traditional Owners and Martu has influenced the way the company now works across its projects.  

Hames Sharley has been working in Newman for Newman Futures, as the designers and planners for the East Newman Precinct Structure Plan and more broadly across the Home in East Newman project.  

The business was one of the first to become a signatory of the This is Our Dream Cultural Compact, after working alongside Newman Futures and Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation (KNAC), Jamukurnu Yapilikurnu Aboriginal Corporation (JYAC) and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) on several projects in Newman.  

Hames Sharley Associate, Ryan Dunham, said working with Nyiyaparli and Martu on urban design and planning projects in East Newman had led the company to a profound realisation.  

“From the minute we turned up at Martumili Arts Gallery, we were working with local Martu artists to discover what a home in East Newman could be,” he said.  

“We realised pretty early on that this engagement approach for the development of an urban design strategy and masterplan was totally different, and working with Martu and Nyiyaparli in the first instance, produced a far richer outcome.” 

The Cultural Compact was co-designed by KNAC and JYAC, to invite the wider community to walk together with Nyiyaparli and Martu on a pathway of mutual respect and understanding.  

Ryan said that for Hames Sharley, signing the Cultural Compact not only solidified what they had learned when working in Newman but spoke more broadly to their organisation’s values.  

“Our core value is enabling communities to flourish,” he said.  

“I think a part of that is working specifically with Traditional Owners and Custodians as the first point of reference.” 

Not only is Hames Sharley doing this in their work in Newman, because of their commitment to the Cultural Compact and their experience in the Pilbara, this mentality has replicated across the company’s projects nationally. 

“Signing the Cultural Compact prompted a company-wide reflection on all of our projects. We now take a step back and to speak with our clients about a different approach on how they can go about creating better outcomes by engaging first with Traditional Owners in a similar way we have been doing in Newman,” Ryan explained.  

As part of their commitment in signing the Cultural Compact, Hames Sharley has continued its work in Newman on various urban design projects, but most importantly the majority of Hames Sharley staff nationally have undertaken cultural awareness training. 

“This means any staff have a better understanding on how to engage with the community and the rich culture, language and history that exists across Australia,” Ryan added. 

“I think the Cultural Compact enables organisations to take that step back and look at a different pathway forward.”  

“In our office, it has enabled a different understanding of how the process of working with Nyiyaparli and Martu can create a greater outcome.” 

By becoming a signatory of the Cultural Compact, staff at Hames Sharley have formalised their commitment to walking together towards a better future, not only in Newman, but across their work in Australia.  

Want to find out how you can become a signatory of the Cultural Compact? Head to

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