Mr Kombumerri was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Architecture (honoris causa) during a ceremony held in the University’s Great Hall on Monday 16 October. Hailing from Yugambeh and Quandamooka Country, Mr Kombumerri became the University's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduate in architecture in 1990. He also holds the distinction of being the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to be registered as an 'architect’.
Pro-Chancellor Dr Lisa McIntyre conferred the degree, and said Mr Kombumerri has been a profound driver of change in the architectural profession through his design, education and policy work.
“Mr Kombumerri’s influential and pioneering work has led to an intense wave of interest from the sector in incorporating understandings of Country into the architectural process, improving connection with and accessibility for indigenous communities across the built environment,” Professor Scott said.
“We are delighted to recognise Dillon’s significant contribution to architecture and the built environment,” said Acting Dean and Head of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning Dr Adrienne Keane.
“This is worthy recognition for Dillon, a trailblazing alumnus of the University of Sydney, and a testament to his leadership in advocating practices in the built environment and how it cares for and connects with Country,” added the School’s Associate Dean Indigenous, Dr Michael Mossman.
As an architect, Mr Kombumerri has integrated his unique Indigenous perspective into his practice. His distinctive approach demonstrates contemporary and evolving methods of engaging with and responding to Country and cultural practices, needs and aspirations. His body of work includes projects that focus on improving the health, well-being, and prosperity of Indigenous communities, several of which have won major architecture awards, including the NSW Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Premier’s Prize and the NSW AIA Blacket Award.
This is worthy recognition for Dillon, a trailblazing alumnus of the University of Sydney, and a testament to his leadership in advocating practices in the built environment and how it cares for and connects with Country.
Mr Kombumerri has been instrumental in shaping the state’s architectural policy through his work at Government Architect NSW. As Principal Architect and design adviser, he has helped to introduce understandings of Country to the sector, informing the planning, design and delivery of built environment projects in NSW. Recently, he has played a pivotal role in establishing the Merrima Aboriginal Design Unit within the NSW Government's Department of Public Works in Sydney. Within Merrima, Mr Kombumerri has championed an architectural methodology that respects Aboriginal cultural practices, connects with Country, and actively involves Aboriginal communities in decisions concerning their homelands.
In addition to his architectural contributions, Mr Kombumerri has been involved in teaching and research roles at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, contributing to both the Bachelor and Master of Architecture courses. He has also lectured nationally and globally on the value of Indigenous knowledge in improving the built and natural environment.
Dillon has been involved in and contributed to numerous forums, government initiatives and policy development committees, including UN forums on First Nations people. He was a co-creator of and Advisory Panel member for the Eora Journey as part of the City of Sydney Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, which will tell the city’s Indigenous story through identifying and revealing significant sites and histories.