Some of Dr Steve's activities and projects

Some of Dr Steve's projects and activities...


Business Centre


A feasibility study was conducted to determine if the proposed Yarrabah Commercial Business Centre will increase the economic, social and physical sustainability and resilience of the Yarrabah community.  The multi-stage conception of the centre represents an incremental approach to development that would initiate and strengthen the economic and social linkages of the community through the sequencing of projects to continue engagement in and with the Yarrabah community. This would bring a more sustained contribution to and benefits for the Yarrabah community, leading over time to further stimulation of business initiatives, a more effective transitioning of people, the establishment of deeper economic linkages as well as social improvements and an increase in the capability and capacity of community members. The centre would represent an additional amenity, away from the foreshore area where most other businesses and services currently operate and initially would serve mainly the growing communities in the corridor area of Yarrabah.


The major findings of this study are:

  • The Yarrabah Business Centre (Stage 1 building) is financially viable under current settings;

  • In addition to the financial viability of Stage 1, the centre will provide various economic and social benefits to Yarrabah;

  • The proposed business centre has contextual feasibility within the development vision and strategic framework for the Yarrabah community


Construction and costing is based on the front right hand model only (Brown roof).   The other 4 phases are suggested as possible future extensions.

Yarrabah Housing


The Yarrabah Aboriginal Community in Queensland continues to experience a chronic and severe housing crisis. The crisis is characterised by an insufficient number of houses for the resident population, leading to gross overcrowding (average 18 occupants/dwelling), and poor-quality housing leading to low quality of living and unhealthy conditions for the occupants.

The constraints, structures and processes that have led to the present housing crisis include issues of land tenure and administration, a chronic lack of funding, contextual social and economic conditions and a shortage of available land.


A new approach to address this problem includes:

  • development of medium- and/or high-density housing as a solution to land availability constraints and to start balancing housing supply–demand.

  • building of culturally appropriate dwellings that also have high levels of construction quality and environmental sustainability and resilience as a solution to cultural concerns, to residential living conditions and to environmental concerns/obligations.

  • development of Indigenous home ownership for a proportion of Yarrabah residents via a finance mechanism such as no-deposit mortgage loans under Aboriginal freehold tenure as a solution to funding shortfalls. This would also help meet the home-owning aspirations of Indigenous residents of Yarrabah and also assist in gradually improving the social and economic well-being of residents.

Draft housing proposal for Yarrabah Aboriginal Community

Flying down the Nesbit River towards the ocean

Flying down the Nesbit River towards the ocean.

Dr Steve visits the Nesbit River area in northeastern Queensland, Australia


Dr Steve and Kim Macdonald were invited by Sam Zaro, Traditional Owner (TO) of the Nesbit River country, to visit the Nesbit River site.  Sam, the TO, is keen to develop an eco-tourism site and get his people back onto country.


The eco-tourism concept and people back on country would be developed in several stages due to money restraints.  Phase one would be development of site and concept plans for the construction.  As part of this stage materials would be moved onto site to establish the basics of living during the first phase of construction.  As well as establishing the site, an assessment of the flora and fauna onsite would be conducted as there is no intention to upset the ecology of the landscape.  Sam is keen to establish a ranger program for his people so that his rangers could live on site and his people could come and go from site as they wished to visit.


Dr Steve suggested that the development take advantage of the existing materials on site and within the traditional lands to be used in the construction phase and bring as few materials into site as possible.    Because of a lack of funds Dr Steve is hoping that he might run a landscape architectural studio on site for a few University of Canberra students.  This would give the students personal insight into construction problems in remote locations while developing concepts that blend the environmental landscape into architecture. 

Dr Steve's model of a possible eco-tourism and research site near the mouth of the Nesbit River.

Pictured (left to right)  Michael Mundine, Lini Tuitavake, Sam Zaro and Dr Steve.

Dr Steve visits the Block in Redfern, Sydney


Dr Steve was invited to attend a meeting recently organised by the Traditional Owner of the Nesbit River, Sam Zaro, and Mick Mundine, CEO of the Block, in Sydney. The meeting took place to discuss future working relationships between the two aboriginal groups.  Dr Steve’s role was only one of providing advice on the delivery of remote aboriginal projects if requested.


Remote project delivery is a very challenging and costs can escalate easily. The logistics of the suggested Eco-Tourism Retreat for example is very sophisticated and environmentally challenging.  Dr Steve, through his experience and knowledge of remote Australia and developing economies in other parts of the world, is working to support the project and keep the cost of construction under control.


It was a pleasure to meet Mick Mundine, a proud Bundjalung man, and to hear of his vision for the aboriginal people of Redfern.  It has been a long, hard road for Mick and others but he seems to be coming to a successful outcome for his people with the upcoming Pemulwuy Development of the Block.


Dr Steve is inspired to continue his support for the Wunta Aboriginal Corporation of Far North Queensland after the meeting he attended with the two great proud leaders of aboriginal people.