Jefa Greenaway is more than aware of the weight of responsibility that comes with being one of a minority of Indigenous architects working in Australia today, and he’s become a brilliant advocate for indigenous voices within the built environment.
Interviewing Jefa very quickly throws into focus the glaring lack of diversity with the Australian design community. For example, right now, Jefa estimates that there are probably between 6 and 8 registered indigenous architects in private practice nationally, and at most, he estimates that around 20 indigenous people have graduated from schools of architecture nationally, ever.
Despite these discouraging numbers, Jefa is optimistic, and the good news is, things are improving. Somewhere between 50-70 students of an indigenous background are in schools of architecture nationally right now – and the IADV, a not-for-profit organisation which Jefa co-founded, provides services to support those students and ensure they flourish.
What Jefa is seeking to do, is to move beyond what he calls the ‘deficit discourse’ of how we engage with indigenous culture. Instead, he is focussed on celebrating our shared humanity and shared connections. Because as he says, ‘we are all connected to the oldest continuing living culture in the world – so why wouldn’t we seek to look at the strength and the opportunity that that can bring?’
I found this conversation so enlightening, and I’m so grateful to be able to share just a little of Jefa’s wisdom with you via this podcast.