Degree Name

GEOG401: Human Geography (Honours)




Professor Gordon Waitt and Professor Pauline McGuirk


This Indigenous-led project focuses on the meanings of home. Well-rehearsed in the housing literature are the challenges of providing houses for Indigenous Australians. To address these challenges this research is part of larger project to design houses for elderly Indigenous Australians to return to Country that are underpinned by Indigenous principles. What makes a house a home for Indigenous Australians? To help answer this question this project— led by the Jerrinja community— explored the meaning of home drawing on mixed-qualitative methods. With a focus on establishing design principles this thesis conceives of home in relation to house, kinship and Country. The thesis points to what it means to do Indigenous-led research and the ambivalent understanding of house-as-home for Jerrinja people. Important methodological findings were produced through a process of learning that occurred through the ‘doing’ of Indigenous-led research in practice, which highlighted a need for cross-cultural researchers to remain sensitive and flexible to the local social terrain. In this research, flexibility required working within the context of local Indigenous housing politics, social mobility practices and adhering to important cultural protocols. Key empirical contributions include elderly Jerrinja people’s discussions of embodied knowledges of the material house-as-home. In particular, I demonstrate Jerrinja people were consciously alert to the relationships between bodies, spaces, materials and affective flows of light, wind, warmth and sound. Additionally, I provide an empirical discussion of the productive tensions between objective, aesthetic and relational aspects of the material house-as-home, as shown through elderly Jerrinja people’s discussions of home. To conclude, the thesis offers four design principles: adaptability, sustainability, permeability and spaces between houses.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.