How yarning together’ can create a co-design legacy

Is it possible to keep the desert connected’ across the vast expanse of Australia? Yarning together provides the answers.

In a pro-bono initiative, Hassell is working together with the Indigenous Desert Alliance and Gordon Bateup from Bateup Consulting to design a new Hub that enables the Indigenous Desert Alliance to continue its important work of keeping the desert connected’. 

The Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA) is an Indigenous-controlled, member-based organisation that plays a vital role in building resilience for desert ranger programs dedicated to looking after Country. 

The Hub will become IDA headquarters and the primary point of gathering when Desert people need to come to Perth (Western Australia) on Whadjuk Country. Conceived as a place that feels like home’, this culturally safe building will comprise offices, meeting rooms, and flexible spaces for creating content, catering, and hosting families, clients, stakeholders, and IDA members, as well as, most importantly, spaces for yarning.

Senior Associate Robina Crook says this project is an integral step in Hassell’s journey toward developing a greater understanding of First Nations people and their incredibly diverse cultures. This knowledge will inform our approach to culturally safe projects into the future. 

This is a wonderful opportunity to grow our cultural knowledge and experience to create truly authentic results that will benefit the Indigenous Desert Alliance and its members. It’s important that the Alliance can continue what they do to care for Country,” says Robina.


Perth, Western Australia




Michael Douglas

Yarning together’ – visualising an invaluable knowledge-sharing process.

A series of yarning sessions has been a fundamental part of the project. These will continue, encouraging Indigenous Desert Alliance stakeholders, Elders, board members and emerging leaders within the IDA network to come together to advise on Country and culture, evolving the Desert Hub’s purpose and design.

Assisting with the co-design process and yarning sessions is Hassell Associate Adam Paikos-Coe.

Through this process, we hope to create a piece of the Desert in the city, a culturally safe place where First Nations people can feel empowered to negotiate the best outcomes for their people.”

Indigenous Desert Alliance Deputy Chief Executive Officer Samantha Murray says the yarning sessions to date have been a great way to help the group feel comfortable and safe so they are engaged to yarn and talk’ openly with the design team.

As Desert people who are connected with the Indigenous Desert Alliance, we hold responsibility for our fellow Desert mob in this design process. We will think of them when it comes to what the Desert Hub will look and feel like. The fact that there are people involved from different age groups and parts of the Desert is really important to the future of IDA,” says Samantha.

Yarning sessions draw out insights on Indigenous culture and Country that help evolve the Hub design.

It’s great that yarning times are planned to help develop the design.”

— Samantha Murray, Indigenous Desert Alliance Chief Executive Officer

We’ve already had a couple, and we could yarn as long as we wanted and suggest ideas in a good way without feeling rushed. Aunty Nyaparu, Andrew, Kerenza, Elijah, and myself felt comfortable yarning and talking with the design team.

It’s important that we do this the right way and that Rangers and our community mob feel comfortable in the Desert Hub. We all feel very excited by the process and how it will all look and feel at the end!”

Stay tuned. Hassell and the Indigenous Desert Alliance intend to share the entire journey and learnings from this important project.