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Hames Sharley Associate Director Yaara Plaves and Graduate of Architecture Sarah Burton were recognised at this year’s NAWIC SA Awards, a testament to the impact they are making both within Hames Sharley and the wider built environment industry.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Awards showcase the achievements and industry advancements of women in the construction industry. This year they received a higher number of entries than any previous year; a strong indication of the positive change led by women throughout the construction industry in South Australia.

This year, NAWIC SA piloted blind nominations to ensure the fair selection of award winners from different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences and prevent unconscious biases.

Amidst a field of brilliant nominees, Yaara became the inaugural winner of the new ‘Continuous Improvement’ award, which recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution towards improving or advancing a construction project, company processes, or industry innovation related to environment, safety or quality.

As the head of our National Sustainability Forum, Yaara has been instrumental in promoting regenerative design practices and inspires change both within Hames Sharley and the wider construction industry. The natural progression from sustainable design to now driving regenerative design has not only been an important and meaningful step in her architectural career, but a crucial and essential improvement for the construction industry as a whole. Stemming from a personal passion for sustainability, this mission has flourished into a fundamental shift in how the construction industry operates and is now an essential step in building a more sustainable and regenerative future for our planet.

Her influence in this space has seen her hold roles within state-based and national industry bodies, including the Adelaide City Council Adaptive Reuse Panel, Adelaide Sustainability Building Network Committee, and the AIA Climate Action and Sustainability Taskforce Expert Group, and as chair for both the AIA SA Regenerative Design Committee and AIA Sustainability Awards Jury.

Yaara takes every opportunity to encourage stakeholders to think about how regenerative design works in practice. She fosters more regenerative built environment outcomes by hosting workshops, seminars, and webinars that are tailored to various audiences within the construction industry, making complex concepts accessible and relatable. These workshops are supported by real-world examples of projects that have successfully integrated these principles, highlighting the economic and environmental benefits they yield.

Sarah Burton received the ‘Graduate of the Year’ award, which recognises an individual’s outstanding contribution to their time in the construction or related industry since graduating between 2021 and 2022.

Sarah joined Hames Sharley as a Student of Architecture in 2021 during the final months of her Masters of Architecture at Unisia, and has since progressed to become a Graduate of Architecture. As a member of both our Champions for Change and Reconciliation working groups, she promotes diversity, inclusivity, and the overall wellbeing of her colleagues. She believes women’s emotional attributes enrich the construction industry, challenging stereotypes, and she strives for transparency to destigmatise conversations about mental health.

With lived experience from a traumatic childhood, Sarah has deep empathy for a sense of place and understands the importance of home and community. Her involvement as a member of our Social and Affordable Housing Thought Leadership Group showcases her dedication to addressing critical issues in our field. Her contributions to this group demonstrate her commitment to finding sustainable and impactful solutions for housing challenges within our community.

Congratulations Yaara and Sarah, we’re incredibly proud of you and the impact you are making both within Hames Sharley and the wider industry in South Australia.

Photography: Trim Photography