PSA Project have been engaged in the remote community of Utopia and further afield for over 12 months addressing Program and Project Management challenges within this homelands community, 250km North East of Alice Springs.
These projects have ranged from Housing to Art Centre and Community Developments. One of our directors, Paul has been deeply immersed in the community, sometimes for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. Over the longer journey he has been researching and working with the leadership team there to find project solutions and win resources funding for the betterment of the very difficult problems generally experienced in remote Indigenous communities.
A number of initiatives and awards have been progressed in Utopia, including supporting the gaining of funding through the Federal Government to the Northern Territory Government that is being applied to alleviate the shortage of appropriate housing and enable upgrades to existing houses.
The Program Planning and Management in these situations requires an understanding of the local culture and the belief systems of the First Nations people. Their habitat traditions and the suitability of any proposed house designs to Country also need to be incorporated in the approach, scope, design, construction, living conditions, climate and life cycle maintenance needs of each community.
The approach to addressing these centuries long and still mostly unresolved issues needs to be developed based on what the best of Program and Project Management is fundamentally, and that is ‘part art, part science’.
Most institutions find it hard to apply an open and inclusive mind to these designs and there is a sad but long history of inappropriate housing which continues to cause grief and problems.
One aspect which offers interesting solutions is modular and flexible housing. PSA Directors, Paul and Garry are now presently working closely with one of the leading modular and portable housing solution providers, NT Link, in the Northern Territory to advance better program outcomes for a wide range of Indigenous communities.
Prefabricated and modular buildings may be well suited to the remote and harsh environment of the Northern Territory/ Western Australia and projects like these also can offer the opportunity to improve skills for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and local people throughout the community. The improvement of those skills and, hopefully, in a way that relates to their understanding and may be retained in remote communities is a particularly interesting and challenging call for all involved. PSA are focused on that aspect within the larger challenges these projects entail.
While prefabricated and modular construction is not new technology, PSA has recently seen an increase in its implementation with accurate construction techniques across different trades, making the assembly somewhat seamless. Other advantages include reducing the onsite risks and an improved health and safety conditions of a controlled workshop environment. These are important factors to consider when determining if a modular system will be best suited to the unique environment of the project, its stakeholders and community.