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Negotiating Everyday Sustainabilities

Everyday sustainabilities have social and environmental dimensions. These impact the lives of individuals, households, communities and organisations – in our own region, and across the world. In our day-to-day functioning we all reckon with, and adjust to, changes occurring at much larger scales. Equally, the knowledges we possess, the decisions we make and the actions we take feed back into broader processes, with potentially wide-reaching ramifications. For example, people’s everyday activities enable households to function and are integral to how energy, water and food are consumed and saved. Refrigerators, cars, bicycles, cups, clothes, taps, air-conditioners, dwelling types and building fabrics all shape how we use and impact our material world.

Our research attends to the intricacies of everyday life. We are informed by lived experience and attuned to the knowledges and capacities of diverse people and communities. Our work is change-oriented, framed by an awareness that with engagement comes responsibility: to work alongside research participants and partners for social and environmental justice.

Research questions

  • What methods offer insights into the material and expressive dimensions of everyday sustainabilities?
  • How does thinking through the spaces of everyday life shed light on processes of inclusion and exclusion?
  • How does the concept of difference enrich our understanding of everyday sustainabilities and strengthen our abilities to cope with change?
  • How might we recognise, value and learn from the knowledges and capacities of diverse groups?

Photo credit: first photo - Anthony Kerr, third photo - Chris Barbalis

Current projects include


Associate Professor Natascha Klocker (University of Wollongong)

Dr Olivia Dun (University of Melbourne)

Dr Paul Hodge (University of Newcastle)

Ms Eliza Crosbie (University of Newcastle)

Mr Emmanuel Musoni (Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development International)

Project partners

Leadership Great South Coast (LGSC)

Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development International (GLAPDI)

iGen Foundation

Project Description

The Great South Coast Economic Migration Project (GSCEMP) is a secondary settlement project that supports the voluntary relocation of migrants from the Great Lakes region of Africa who currently live in Australian cities, to the Southern Grampians and Glenelg Shires in regional Victoria. It is framed by an understanding that some migrants have a desire to live in rural areas, but benefit from various support mechanisms when making that transition. This research project will document the key learnings of the GSCEMP from the perspective of the implementing organisations (LGSC, GLAPDI and iGen Foundation), relocated families and destination communities. Together with the project partners, we aim to develop an evidence-base to inform academic scholarship and government policy pertaining to rural and regional settlement.


The work is supported by a Faculty Partnership Grant with funds contributed by the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (UOW) and Regional Development Victoria, 2018-2019.


This research is ongoing. Related publications stem from an earlier Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP140101165).

Klocker, N. Head, L., Dun, O., and Spaven, T. (2018) ‘Experimenting with agricultural diversity: migrant knowledge as a resource for climate change adaptationJournal of Rural Studies, 57(1): 13-24


Professor Paul Cooper

Dr Daniel Daly

Professor Ross Gordon (Queensland University of Technology)

Dr Theresa Harada

Professor Gordon Waitt 

Project description

Australia faces the crucial question of how to address rising energy costs in the transition to more environmentally sustainable and socially just energy futures. In this context, energy justice is an urgent political and ethical issue.  Only in 2003 were energy efficiency regulations introduced for Australian houses. Hence, most Australian housing requires large amounts of energy for both artificial heating and cooling. With energy justice in mind, the goals of this transdisciplinary project are to better understand how to conduct cost-effective upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of housing stock of lower income households. 


Corporative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living and Office of Environment and Heritage (2017-2018)

Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP), Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (2014-2016)


Indicative publications

Gordon, R., Waitt, G., Cooper, P.  and K. Butler (2018) Storying energy consumption: Collective video storytelling in energy efficiency social marketing, Journal of Environmental Management 213: 1-10 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.046

Gordon R., Dibb, S, Magee, and G Waitt (2018) Empirically testing the concept of value-in-behavior and its relevance for social marketing Journal of Business Research 82: 56-67 DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.08.035

Waitt, G. (2018) Energy, households, gender and science: a feminist retrofit framework for transdisciplinary research. Area 50(3) 314-342 doi:10.1111/area.12363

Castree, N. & Waitt, G. (2017) ‘What kind of socio-technical research for what sort of influence on energy policy?’, Energy Research & Social Science  26, 87=90(DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2017.01.023)

Gordon, R., Waitt, G. and P. Cooper (2017) A social marketer, a geographer, and an engineer walk into a bar: Reflections on energy + Illawarra and undertaking interdisciplinary projects, Journal of Social Marketing 7(6): 366 - 386 DOI: 10.1108/JSOCM-04-2017-0029

Butler, K, Gordon, R. Rogeveen, K, Waitt, G and Cooper, P. (2016) Social marketing and value in behaviour? Perceived value of using energy efficiently among low income older citizens Journal of Social Marketing 6(2) 144-168

Ross G, Katherine B, Joshua B, Michael T, Paul C, McDowell, C., Kokogiannakis, G and G Waitt (2016) Energy + my home book Sydney: Macquarie University

Other outcomes

Social marketing elements included unique brand development, facts and narratives designed to encourage reflections and open-up conversations between peers. These were delivered through newsletters, videos, LCD brochures and a project website

Retrofitting elements ranged from installation of roof and underfloor insulation, through solar hot water and reverse-cycle air conditioning systems, to draught-stripping, lighting, refrigerators and energy consumption displays. Household ethnographies were used to developed insights which informed a consultation process with households in regard to the selection of retrofits.

Workshops and training delivered to the wider community were twofold. The first was based on teaching older low-income people how to access energy efficiency information online using iPads. The second focused on courses for health and community care workers to improve skills on how to convey energy efficiency information in their everyday interactions with clients.