November 2014
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Research Funding Success

City Futures is celebrating the award of a prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant to research the socio-spatial impacts of rental investor landlord activity in urban Australia. With 2014 investor property acquisition surging to record levels (see graph), the project will focus especially on such activity in low value housing markets. This picks up on recent City Futures research showing disproportionate recent private rental expansion in these areas, and builds on Bill Randolph’s longer-running work on the suburbanisation of disadvantage.  Hal Pawson, Bill Randolph and Shanaka Herath and (CFRC Visiting Fellow) Judy Yates will be working with Swinburne University colleagues on this 2015-2017 study of Sydney and Melbourne. The research will complement the currently ongoing ARC-funded UTS/Swinburne/CFRC study of long term private renters.

City Futures and Leichhardt Council Win PIA Award

City Futures and Leichhardt Council are joint recipients of the 2014 Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) award for a research report on improving access for older residents and people with disabilities in their strata-titled homes.
Commended in the ‘cutting edge research and teaching’ category, and led by Dr Hazel Easthope (pictured, right), the research covered three main areas. First, home modification needs in strata-titled properties. Second, how existing policy and legislation affects the home modification process in strata-titled properties. And third, challenges in undertaking home modifications and opportunities for change.

Susan Thompson Promoted to Professor

Congratulations to Susan Thompson, City Futures Associate Director, promoted to Professor in the 2014 UNSW promotions round.  Beyond her leadership of the Healthy Built Environments (HBEP) program, Susan’s contributions span a range of research, education and engagement activities in the Centre and wider Faculty.  A long-time member of the Planning and Development Program, Susan contributes to teaching, curriculum development and leadership. Susan’s promotion is particularly significant as the social impact of her research on planning and health was recognised as equivalent to more conventional benchmarks for professorial level promotions.  Susan is the Faculty’s first full female academic professorial appointment.

UNSW Built Environment Staff Pack Out Urban Renewal Summit

City Futures and The Faculty of the Built Environment were heavily represented at the recent invitation-only 3-day Summit held by UrbanGrowth NSW on the Sydney’s harbourside Bays Precinct redevelopment project.  This will involve 94 hectares of old dockside waterfront land, mostly owned by the NSW Government.  The Summit brought together a stellar cast of national and international experts and practitioners from a range of global cites with recent experience of comparable major dockside redevelopment.

Faculty Dean, Prof Alec Tzannes, took part as Discussant on one the Panels which looked at the White Bay area.  Other senior staff from City Futures who attended the invitation only event included Adjunct Prof Geoff Roberts, who hosted a Panel Discussion on governance structures, while Prof Bill Randolph, A/Prof Simon Pinnegar and Adjunct Prof Jane Marceau (also representing the local Rozelle community) were present in the audience.

The 3 days provided a substantial opportunity to learn from leading urban renewal programs around the world on how these projects were successfully implemented.  The discussion ranged widely including financing mechanisms, community engagement, public investment, urban design and governance arrangements.  The outcomes will no doubt influence ongoing discussions between City Futures and UrbanGrowth NSW on future research opportunities.

Advising the New Zealand Government

At the invitation of the New Zealand Government, Hal Pawson recently spent 3 days in Wellington advising on social housing reform. This connects with recently announced proposals to trial the handover of NZ state housing to community housing providers. Drawing on City Futures research on Australia’s public housing transfers and on UK experience, Professor Pawson’s assignment involved meetings with a range of NZ Government Departments, as well as Housing New Zealand Corporation and national peak body, Community Housing Aotearoa. 

Appearance at Senate Inquiry Hearing

Following up on the March 2014 City Futures submission to the Senate Economic References Committee Inquiry on Affordable Housing, a CFRC team appeared at the Inquiry’s Sydney hearing on 10 November. Responding to senatorial questions were submission lead author, Vivienne Milligan (pictured), Hal Pawson and Judy Yates (CFRC Visiting Fellow). The Inquiry report is scheduled for publication in March 2015.

Overhauling Social Housing Performance Metrics

On 15 September Hal Pawson and Vivienne Milligan gave evidence at a hearing of the NSW Public Accounts Committee Inquiry on Tenancy Management in Social Housing. The Committee’s subsequent report termed the existing performance measurement framework for social housing as ‘appalling’. And, referring to ongoing CFRC research summarised in our Inquiry submission, it noted that ‘Most witnesses anticipated that ongoing [AHURI] research would help resolve [the current data gap]’. Further, the report concluded that the new metrics currently being trialled by the CFRC research team ‘should be the basis for defining and measuring the performance of social housing provision, including tenancy management’. No pressure there, then!

Celebrating HBEP!

The City Futures Healthy Built Environments Program (HBEP) recently received an excellent evaluation report from the NSW Ministry of Health, its principal funder since 2010. Locating the HBEP within the CFRC was acclaimed as a key component of the Program’s success, especially in aiding engagement with the planning profession. HBEP’s key role in lobbying for the inclusion of health as an objective of the NSW Planning Bill 2013 was recognised a standout achievement. 2015 will see HBEP reaching into new research and educational activities. Keep an eye on the website for further developments.  The HBEP’s Achievements Book 2010-2014 will soon be available.

Enabling Built Environment Program (EBEP) Conference Paper Award

In an awards ceremony presided over by Princess Yōko of Mikasa of Japan, a City Futures EBEP paper has recently won an esteemed award at the 5th International Conference for Universal Design in Fukushima and Tokyo. The paper, ‘Consumer Choice and DIY home modifications: exploring Universally designed housing’, was co-authored by Associate Professor Catherine Bridge, Fred Zmudzki and Nicole McNamara. It was commended for ‘best quality and research significance’.

  The conference combined discussions around the legacy of the Fukushima disaster and the role of universally designed housing in its rebuild, as well as the role of housing in the lead up to Tokyo Olympics 2020. Phillippa Carnemolla also presented a paper discussing her PhD research results.
In September A/Prof Bridge was a project partner and Keynote Speaker on ‘Resilience and Ageing; Experiences’ at the Resilient Communities Summit, Blenheim, New Zealand. She has also been invited to present at the Symposium on Trends in Universal Design 2014 to be held in Kuala Lumpur in December.

Why Do Tenants Leave Social Housing?

Exit rates from social housing have declined drastically in the last decade, severely reducing the availability of lettings for high need applicants. Recently published City Futures research led by Dr Ilan Wiesel examines social housing tenants’ motivations for leaving the sector on their own initiative.

This AHURI-funded study, found that most tenants, including those in paid employment, would prefer to remain in the sector for the foreseeable future. That small minority who do voluntarily exit social housing – less than 5% of all tenants in 2012/13 – do so for a variety of family, housing and neighbourhood related reasons discussed in detail in the report. Understanding these motivations can inform development of more effective policies to encourage voluntary and sustainable exits of tenants who can afford to move into private housing.

Staffing News

City Futures farewells Ji Yuan Yu, Research Officer (Data Technical) and welcomes two new members to the team! Sophia Maalsen will mainly work on the DIY Home mods: point-of-sale support for people with disability and their carers project.  She was awarded her PhD in geography from the University of Sydney earlier this year, and has worked in areas of smart cities, urban geographies, music and feminist geographies. Kate (Shuk) Tong has experience in various biomechanics studies including knee osteoarthritis gait retraining, Clark children footwear and Asics Tigers sports shoes, she is joining the Livability Lab team as a Senior Research Officer.

City Futures in the News

It’s been a hectic few months for CFRC media engagement. As usual, Bill Randolph has been the man most in demand, featuring in The Weekend Australian on apartment living, in the SMH on Sydney house prices and the Western Sydney housing market, as well as in the Fifth Estate and on ABC News online on urban data analysis. Hazel Easthope was featured in the Daily Telegraph on multi-generational living, and in the Fairfax Press on apartment living in both Sydney and Melbourne, while Ilan Wiesel’s work on housing choices for people with a disability was covered by ABC News online.

As well as quotation in the SMH on ‘residents trapped in ‘high rise hell’’, Michael Neuman went global with an appearance on Polish national radio (note attached link for our Polish language readers!) Finally, Hal Pawson featured in the SBS World News slot on dwindling availability of affordable housing in Western Sydney, and on the financing of public housing in the Herald Sun

Forthcoming BE/City Futures Seminars

Dr Nicky Morrison (University of Cambridge, UK)- Selling the family silver? Housing associations, institutional logics and the hidden privatisation of the social rented sector in England 
Thursday 11th December 12pm
Rm 101, Old Main Building, UNSW Kensington Campus

Books, Referred Journal Articles, AHURI Reports and other Q3 2014

Bleasdale, M., Bridge, C., McNamara, N., & Zmudzki, F. (2014) Positioning Paper: DIY Home Modifications: Point-of-Sale Support for People with Disability and their Carers Sydney: Home Modification Information Clearinghouse, UNSW
Carnemolla, P. K., & Bridge, C. (2014). How Home Modifications Support Ageing Well at Home: Towards a Lasting Housing Legacy. Paper presented at the The 5th International Conference for Universal Design in Fukushima & Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. 
Cheshire, L., Pawson, H., Easthope, H., & Stone, W. (2014). Living with Place Disadvantage: community, practice and policy Final Report No. 228; Melbourne: AHURI
Davy, L., Adams, T., & Bridge, C. (2014). Caring for the Carer: Home design and modification for carers of young people with disability. Home Modification Information Clearinghouse.
Easthope, H. (2014). The role of retirees in residential private governments; Journal of Urban Affairs (online first publication)
Freestone, R., & Vizel, I. (2014). The Making of an Australian ‘Airport City’; Geographical Research, 52(3), 280-295.
Freestone, R., & Wiesel, I. (2014). The rise of the airport property market in Australia. In S. Conventz & A. Thierstein (Eds.), In Airports, Cities and Regions: Routeledge.
Pawson, H. & Wiesel, I. (2014) Tenant agency in Australia’s public housing transfers: A comparative assessment; International Journal of Housing Policy (online first publication)
Thome, J., Li, A., Sivaraman, V., & Bridge, C. (2014). Mobile crowdsourcing older people's opinions to enhance liveability in regional city centres. Paper presented at the IEEE 9th International Conference on Intelligent Sensors, Sensor Networks and Information Processing.
Wiesel, I., Pawson, H., Stone, W., Herath, S., & McNellis, S. (2014). Social Housing Exits: Incidence, motivations and consequences Final Report No. 229; Melbounre: AHURI. 
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