Research Projects

Below you will find a list of the current projects being undertaken by Urban and Regional Research Program researchers

Research Projects 2022

Rae Dufty-Jones

Liveability in Western Sydney: Analysis of fifteen liveability indicators applied to the NSW WestInvest Program Local Government Areas in the Greater Sydney Region.
Project leaders: Associate Professor Rae Dufty-Jones and Dr Rhonda Itaoui
Funding: Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2022, $92,000

This research seeks to strengthen the evidence- base for the NSW Government WestInvest Program by providing a review of existing liveability data sources. The research identifies and defines a set of macro (high-level) outcome metrics for the elements of liveability that the WestInvest Program is seeking to achieve.  This involves the analysis of data relating to the set of WestInvest liveability metrics for the 15 WestInvest LGAs in comparison with the Greater Sydney region. These analyses will establish baseline liveability data measurements for each metric to support (i) the assessment of business cases in funding applications, and ii) long-term evaluations of the impacts of the WestInvest Program, or other related research endeavours.

Kevin Dunn

Dissecting Islamophobia: Understanding the varied racialisation of Islam
Funding: Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria, $46,225

The focus of this research was to determine the prevalence and type of Islamophobia in the Victorian population. Islamophobia sentiment feeds the actions of right-wing extremist attacks on Muslim communities. But it has also become widespread in Australian society, and normalised in everyday settings, such as our mainstream media. Islamophobia cannot be treated with a singular approach or mode of intervention. Our study comes at a critical time; it provides empirical evidence on the extent of the problem, as well as documenting the varied manifestations of Islamophobic sentiment, with the view to developing potential action points and policy.

Andrew Gorman-Murray

Living apart together: how mobile work is transforming Australian homes
Funding: ARC Discovery Project, 2020-2023, $192,392

How The Digital Remote Working Revolution Is Transforming Australian Homes
Project leader, Professor Andrew Gorman-Murray (with A/Prof David Bissell and Dr Elizabeth Straughan, University of Melbourne)
Funding: ARC Discovery Project, 2022-2025, $314,690

This project is investigating how the recent rapid rise in digital remote working for many Australians is transforming homes by evaluating its diverse impacts on work practices, households and wider communities. Through qualitative research, the goal of this project is to generate new knowledge of the social changes taking place using cutting-edge geographical theories of homemaking, mobilities and labour. Expected outcomes of this project include enhancing Australia’s capacity in home and mobilities research. The project should provide significant benefits to a range of stakeholders by identifying opportunities for socially-just interventions by local, state and federal governments, industry, and the community.

Stephen Healy

Investigating Innovative Waste Economies: redrawing the circular economy
Professor Gay Hawkins and Dr. Stephen Healy (co-leads) A/prof Abby Mellick Lopes UTS), A/Prof Ruth Lane (Monash)
- (ARC Discovery Project, 2020-2023, $309,000)
Australia is facing a waste crisis and government and industry are promoting the Circular Economy as a solution. This project investigates innovative cultural and economic practices in three waste streams: single use plastics, organics and bulky household waste, to understand how they realise or redraw the circle. The project develops empirical evidence to advance thinking about how novel waste economies are organised and the cultural and social innovations they generate. Outcomes include national and international case studies of innovative waste economies, social learning events with industry stakeholders and academic publications. Key benefits provide evidence of how different waste practices enable more sustainable ways of living.

Alanna Kamp

What Next for Diversity?
Funding: Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), 2019-2020, $65,000

This project involved an academic team of social psychologists, statisticians, social workers, geographers and sociologists, and aimed to examine Australians’ current views on social, political and economic issues relating to social and cultural diversity, nation and migration, as well as the science of climate change, social trust and trust in government, media and law-enforcement institutions. It comprised a national survey (n: 2,015) and focus groups across metropolitan, regional and rural NSW. Project findings and industry ready deliverables have been pivotal to shaping the thought leadership of SBS and its stakeholders, including Australian Government departments.

‘Mixed-race’ young Australians’ experiences of racism, identity, and belonging in multicultural Australia
Funding: Western Sydney University Early Career Researcher Fellowship, 2021, $15,000

Via an online national survey and interviews with young Australians (18-30 year olds) who identify as ‘mixed-race’ or ‘mixed ancestry’, this project aims to: 1) examine the type, frequency and location of experiences of racism and how they may vary across subgroups (gender, age, ethnicity); 2) evaluate the impacts of these racist experiences on targets (such as access to social and economic opportunities, sense of identity and feelings of belonging) and social cohesion; 3) investigate how ‘mixed race’ young Australians negotiate their identities and intersectional subject positions in multicultural Australia; and 4) evaluate the potential for ‘mixed race’ Australians to work as anti-racism advocates and provide new ways to understand ‘race’, social relations/cohesion, diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism. This project will provide new knowledge and significantly promote anti-racism, social cohesion and belonging for the next generation of our society.

Asian Australians’ Experiences of Racism During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Funding: Centre for Resilient and Inclusive Societies & Department of Premier and Cabinet (VIC), 2020-2022, $54,000

Kamp Report Cover

This research examined Asian Australians’ experiences of racism before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted an online survey of over 2000 self-identified Asian Australians between November 2020 and February 2021.We examined how their experiences of racism are associated with their mental health, wellbeing and feelings of belonging. We analysed how targets and witnesses respond to racist incidents, and whether they report these incidents. Results of this research have been delivered to the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, Australian Human Rights Commission, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, NSW Department of Communities and Justice, Australian Multicultural Foundation, and Centre for Multicultural Youth.

Nicky Morrison

Increasing resilience to climate change (IRCC) project: Local council guidance for climate, health and wellbeing in the Western Parkland City  
Funding: NSW Government and LGNSW Climate Change Resilience Grant

This Local Government NSW funded project focusses on identifying how local councils in the Western Parkland City have addressed climate risk and resilience within their policies and plans, and uncovering the barriers and enablers of planning, implementing, and evaluating climate risk and resilience strategies within the Western Parkland City. The intent of this research is to inform the development of guidance and tools to assist the development and implementation of strategies and action plans to reduce the impact of climate on health and wellbeing across the Western Parkland City. The project used the wide local council networks of the WSHA to ascertain if policy action areas identified in the Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing (Climate and Health Alliance, 2017) could be translated into local council and health service strategies and action plans across the Western Parkland City region.

NSW built environment practitioners' perspectives on place-making opportunities that deliver health and wellbeing outcomes
Funding: Maridulu Budyari Gumal

The built environment can positively impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Where you live shapes how easy it is to buy healthy food, use active transport, and make social connections. The evidence is clear. But how do we go about creating places that help deliver positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all? This project looks at the barriers and opportunities that present to built environment practitioners when making healthy places.

Phillip O'Neill

Future Directions: Ways forward for the economies of Blacktown, Cumberland, Parramatta and The Hills – the Central City District of Sydney.

This report responds to a brief that asked what would be the likely effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of the Central City over the next ten years? The brief also asked for information and insights to assist in planning an effective response to the pandemic. In so doing, the report aspires to be an important aid to leadership by local government and local business communities in forging a successful recovery pathway.

Sebastian Pfautsch

Funding: Digital Restart Fund, NSW Government and Sydney Water Corporation, 2022-2023, $192,392

Simpact image a

The SIMP@CT project is Australia’s largest smart, green infrastructure project that aims to optimise park irrigation to generate the greatest Park Cool Island Effect in summer. The number of residents at Sydney Olympic Park is growing rapidly and as a result of high-density living, pressure on existing parks and recreational spaces is mounting. Also, the continued loss of established green infrastructure due to the urban densification process means that the natural cooling capacity of the precinct is declining – at a time where summers become increasingly hotter due to global warming. SIMP@CT addresses these issues by using machine learning to optimise the water status of plants, especially that of trees, throughout Bicentennial Park. Not only will these conditions prevent the loss of vegetation due to heat stress, but it will also generate the best possible conditions for trees to unfold their maximum cooling potential through shading (to cool the ground) and transpiration (to cool the air). The cooling benefits can be assessed live by park visitors through a custom designed app that visualises live data feeds from the park. The Park Cool Island Effect is also expected to reduce air temperatures in downwind residential communities that surround the park.

Awais Piracha

Planning for Open Space and Recreation in High-Density Areas
Funding: Landcom NSW, $147,000

The aim of the Suburban to Urban project was to develop a planning method for open space and recreation in suburban areas which are being transformed into new high-density areas (NHDAs). These areas are transport nodes associated with major new infrastructure investments, notably rail. The NHDA environment presents particular challenges for planning for open space and recreation because of: the rapid pace of development; the high density of the development; limited local planner experience with this type of development; limited availability of private/ household open space and consequent likely demand for public open space; the limited total amount of land involved and its high cost; the fact that the bulk of the resident population is prospective rather than current; and the need to consider the social, physical and political/ administrative relationships with the immediate host community.

Emma Power

Shadow care infrastructures: sustaining life in the post-welfare city
Funding: ARC Discovery Project, 2021-2024

Mounting evidence points to difficulties faced by Australians reliant on government income support in meeting market costs of essential needs. This project investigates whether and how ‘shadow care infrastructures’ – a wide range of formal and informal material and social supports – enable the survival, well-being and flourishing of income support recipients.
Focusing on people with disabilities, unemployed and asylum seekers, the research evaluates the benefits and harms such infrastructures produce for those receiving and providing care, and the wider community. It examines risks and opportunities to scale up emerging care infrastructures identified as critical to making ends meet for income support recipients in contemporary cities.
The project includes the following researchers Dr Ilan Wiesel, The University of Melbourne, Associate Professor Kathleen Mee, The University of Newcastle, and Dr Emma Mitchell, Western Sydney University.

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