Reworking Cities and Economies

UN Sustainable Development Goals

This platform is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing  Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy  Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth  Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure  Goal 10: Reduced inequalities  Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.  Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production  Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Contemporary cities and economies are in flux in the face of multiple environmental, technological, and socio-economic challenges. Transformations to modes of urban living, economy and work, and governance are emerging. These have both progressive and regressive potential.

Our work theorizes and empirically analyses the practices, materiality, and politics of these transformations. Our approaches embrace critical and generative perspectives. We combine influences from geographical political economy, post-structuralism, post-humanism, and feminism, with grounded empirical work at multiple scales.

We seek to unsettle axiomatic scripts of urban and economic transformation (‘creative’, ‘compact’, ‘smart’, ‘sustainable’ cities) to consider their negotiation, potentialities, lived experience, materialities, and related politics.

Research questions

  • How do technology, automation, and urban economic dynamics interact in reconfiguring work and the city?
  • What vernacular capacities and legacies of the city can become resources for sustainable urban futures?
  • What are the capacities of bodies, buildings, and materials to facilitate more just and sustainable cities?
  • How do post-human philosophies help reveal the ambivalent politics and potentials of urban dwelling?
  • What forms of, and approaches to, social and economic governance can support progressive urban transformations? 

ACCESS Research and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The ACCESS SDG report outlines our current research projects that are contributing to the UN SDGs.

Read the ACCESS SDG report (PDF 1.7mb)
Field of corn with wind turbines on horizon

Current projects include

Researchers

Project Description

The project aims to increase knowledge about the everyday meanings and experiences of motorised mobility devices (MMDs). The project seeks to provide insights to how people who are reliant upon MMDs negotiate the current transport infrastructure.

Project partner

Assistive Technologies Suppliers Australia - Mr David Sinclair

Outcomes 

The research will provide important insight to advocates, suppliers, regulators, policy makers, and people who rely on motorised mobility devices (MMDs). Anticipated outcomes include an empirical evidence baseline to inform planning and policy agendas in transport, disability and health. The research may also influence the planning of infrastructure and the types of MMDs designed and sold in the future. In a context in which MMDs face increased regulation, this research will be invaluable. The research findings will go beyond just financial benefits, and will potentially have significant impact on the lives of people who rely on MMDs.

Project website

Lets move together

Article

The rush of the rush hour: mobility justice for seniors on public transport in Sydney

 

Researchers

Dr Chantel Carr

Project description

This project explores how cultures of thrift, care and making-do have flourished in the regional steelmaking city of Wollongong. The Port Kembla steelworks has operated in the Illawarra region continuously for almost 90 years. Maintenance and repair are central to the functioning of a large industrial plant, yet they are often rendered invisible within accounts of manufacturing. Through a close examination of the workers who keep the steelworks running, this project explores how methods, practices, skills and values spill out beyond the paid workplace, into the garage, shed and suburban backyard.

Outcomes

Indicative publications

Researchers

Project description

The ‘Dementia Friendly Kiama’ project is an ongoing partnership between UOW Global Challenges Program, the Kiama Municipal Council, the Kiama community and Dementia Australia. The project utilises a Community-based Participatory Action Research framework to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of a dementia-friendly community intervention. 

Initial research included:

  • Interviews and mapping exercises with people with dementia and their carers
  • Community and business surveys
  • Piloting a Dementia-friendly business toolkit
  • The development of an environmental assessment tool for use in the auditing of public buildings.

Funding

The work was originally funded through UOW Global Challenges Program (2014-15)

Outcomes

Indicative publications

Other outcomes

This research guided the Action Plan of a local Dementia Alliance and Dementia Advisory Group. Evaluative research activities monitored inputs, outputs, impacts and outcomes of the project. 

Public recognition has included:

  • Excellence in Community Partnerships Award at the National Disability Awards (2016)
  • World Health Organisation recognition at the 7th Global Conference for the Alliance of Healthy Cities (2016)
  • National Award for Local Government in the Disability Access and Inclusion category (2016)

Researchers

Project description

Drawing on residents’ engagement and experiences of intensification this project aims to chart citizens’ lived experience of denser urban worlds, foreshadowing both new roles and opportunities for local government. The project examines intensification through a topological approach, where the everyday experiences, sensations and perceptions of urban dwellers are brought into focus (McFarlane, 2016). The research will examine how resident engagements with intensification are charting new spaces of citizen and government responsibility, providing insights into the future of local governance in post-suburban worlds.

Funding

University of Wollongong Global Challenges Seed Grant (2018-2019).

Outcomes

Report

Apartment Dwellers’ Perceptions of Densification in Liverpool CBD: A Pilot Study Global Challenges Seed Project: “Resident Perceptions of Intensification: Western City and the transformation of Local Government

Peer reviewed conference paper

Dense, urban and walkable: The lived experience of apartment dwellers in post-suburban Sydney State of Australian Cities

Project website

Global Challenges: Urban Worlds

Researchers

Project description

From the automated checkout in the supermarket to the 3D printer in the library, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are in our lives more than ever. Newspapers regularly feature articles on driverless cars, rovers on Mars or supercomputers competing with humans in chess or Go. While much anecdotal information is now widely available there is a pressing need for research on how these technologies will alter our lifestyles, social practices and habits in the future. The research problematizes the notion that the Creative Industries are immune to the impacts of AI and automation.

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (2016-2020)

Outcomes

Indicative publications

Researchers

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP170103384) 

Project Description

Globally, urban innovation is cohering around the idea of the ‘smart city’. This project provides the first analysis to delineate what is involved in making cities smart in Australia. It engages with diverse smart city proponents to collect evidence on smart cities’ scope and implementation. Through a combination of extensive and intensive case study research, the project explores the structure, dynamics and consequences of smart city governance. The project’s theoretical contribution is building understandings of how ‘smart’ is changing our cities, their geographies and their governance. 

Outcomes

Indicative Publications

Researcher

Dr Andrew Warren

Project description

In late 2017 Australia's century-old auto manufacturing industry closed as the last Ford and GM-Holden vehicles rolled off assembly lines in respective Melbourne and Adelaide factories. Joining the re-organisation of upstream vehicle production is the downstream transformation of auto 'aftermarket' services, including parts design and wholesale, smash repair, technical servicing and maintenance. Drawing from a survey and deploying ethnography inside auto-related businesses, the project has investigated the structural changes unfurling in the aftermarket, documenting transition experiences among local firms, workshops and workforces. Theoretically informed by geographical and feminist political economy, the research has sought to improve understandings of the technical and competitive dynamics of post-sale, aftermarket services. The project has examined inequities in accessing design and technical information among independent and brand-aligned service providers; the changing labour processes and skills training demands, and; the policy responses adopted in other international jurisdictions aiming to drive a more equitable environment in product aftermarkets.

Funding

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) 

Outcomes

The project has developed new insights on the restructuring of Australia's auto sector and revealed the significance of post-sale, aftermarket services that sustain the ongoing use and value of important consumer products such as automobiles. Such knowledge is crucial to protect jobs in aftermarket industries such as maintenance and repair – the single largest source of auto industry employment globally. The study has been able to assemble a multi-scalar perspective on industry change incorporating industry-level policy shifts, firm/shop actions to stay viable, and grounded insights on worker's experiences of transformation. Aside from academic publications, the results of the project are being compiled in a final report to be shared with several key aftermarket industry associations during a UOW roundtable workshop set for November 2021. The roundtable and industry report will seek to inform policy around ensuring fair and equitable access to technical information needed to maintain and repair consumer goods.

Indicative publications

Publications under review

  • Mobilising maintenance and repair: An analysis of post-production automotive services. Economic Geography.
  • Technical work and the discriminating effects of skill: the case of automotive maintenance and repair. Work, Employment and Society.

Researchers

Project Client

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER)

Project Partners:

  • Australian Institute of Airconditioning, Refrigeration and Heating (AIRAH)
  • Facilities Management Association (FMA)

Project description

In 2020 an interdisciplinary team of researchers from ACCESS and SBRC were commissioned to design a large industry survey of building services technicians and facilities managers, with the purpose of guiding federal policy towards better energy performance in mid-tier buildings. The survey was conducted in partnership with peak organisations in the sector, including AIRAH and FMA. In 2021 the research team will build on this work by delivering three work packages targeting a deeper qualitative analysis of maintenance practices in Australian commercial buildings. This third phase of the project will use interviews with key stakeholders to better understand how energy outcomes are shaped by the procurement of maintenance services, with a focus on other commercial building types, and current skills and licensing frameworks. The project is contributing empirical data to support the National Federation Reform Council’s (formerly COAG) Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings.

Project website

Better Ways to Work

Outcomes

Carr, C, Stanes, E, Daly, M, Daly, D, McGuirk, P (2021), Better Ways to Work: HVAC management, repair and maintenance in the mid-tier commercial office sector. Final report, March 2021.

Aliento W (2021) Unlocking Better Buildings, in HVAC Nation: An AIRAH publication, Issue 139. July.

Daly, D, Daly, M, Santala, I, Carr, C, Stanes, E, McGuirk, P (2021) Identifying common issues in mid-tier HVAC maintenance: Commercial Offices, Aged Care, Hotels and Shopping Centres. Final report, August 2021. ISBN: 978-1-74128-357-0.   

Daly, M, Carr, C, Santala, I, Daly, D, Stanes, E, McGuirk, P (2021) Mapping decision-making and opportunities for improving energy efficiency across the mid-tier HVAC maintenance lifecycle. Final report, December 2021. ISBN: 978-1-74128-356-3.

Stanes, E, Carr, C, McGuirk, P, Daly, D, Daly, M, Santala, I (2022). Understanding the barriers to skills development for energy efficiency in commercial building HVAC. Final report, January 2022. ISBN: 978-1-74128- 358-7.

Researchers

Project description

Transitioning energy consumption and provision away from fossil fuels toward renewable resources is an urgent priority for Australia. Yet the forms of governance required to facilitate these transitions, especially for critically important cities, are not well developed nor well understood. In a novel analysis of the materiality of governance, this project investigates the pathways, practices, and political dynamics of energy transitions in

Australia's two largest cities. Through a focus on top-tier commercial office space, the project identifies opportunities for and barriers to transition. It sheds new light on the limits and potentials of urban energy transitions and provides an evidence base to inform policy and governance interventions. The research broaden understandings of the ways energy systems in Australian cities can be governed, and sustainably renewed to facilitate energy transitions and pose critical questions for the future shape of Australian cities.

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery DP150100991

Outcomes

Researchers

Project description

As cities face more complex challenges, more is expected of urban governance. One significant response to these new expectations is innovation in how and by whom cities are governed. New roles for the government, business, civic and university sectors are emerging, as are innovations in financing and collaborative partnerships. Little is known about the governance capacities produced by these new ways of governing, their effectiveness, inclusiveness and legitimacy, or their ultimate benefit to future cities. This project poses much needed critical questions of these innovations: who do they involve; how do they work; how do they intersect with longstanding practices of governing the city. It aims to build new understandings of urban governance by delineating the scope,  mechanisms, limits and potentials of these innovations. Through integrating insights from Australian and international cases, this project aims to generate new knowledge and understanding around the actors, practices and processes involved in advancing urban governance innovations, their possibilities and limits.  

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP200100176

Outcomes

 

Researchers

Dr Chantel Carr 

Project description

Industrial and resource regions that have felt the effects of automation and economic adjustment for decades now face an imperative to transition out of carbon intensive industries. This project aims to address household capacities to mediate and plan for this new challenge which is already reconfiguring working life in regional Australia. The project will use qualitative methods to understand how industrial change and working futures are negotiated in spaces beyond the workplace, and how this might contribute to socially just transitions. Expected outcomes include an empirical evidence base that will enable governments, institutions and employers to better understand the values and needs of households in energy-intensive regions, and their capacities to participate in transitions to more just and sustainable futures. 

Funding

2021 Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship DE210100989

Researchers

  • Professor Jane Farmer
  • Professor Josephine Barraket
  • Dr Michael Roy
  • Dr Catharine McKinnon
  • Dr Chris Brennan-Horley
  • Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz
  • Professor Susan Kilpatrick

Project Description

Exploring how social enterprises affect wellbeing and community capacity in disadvantaged areas of regional cities. Governments increasingly invest in social enterprise to benefit individuals and places. This project will use a spatial methodology to map where and how benefits are realised. 

Funding

(2017-2020) Value $257,000 funded through ARC Discovery Scheme (DP170100388)

Outcomes 

Project website 

Social Enterprise Wellbeing 
Incorporating tools and resources for social enterprise practitioners

Public report

Mapping the impact of social enterprise on disadvantaged individuals and communities in Australia’s regional cities 

Peer reviewed articles

Book chapters

Researchers

Project Description

This project aims to investigate the past, present and future significance of Australian industrial landscapes. It focuses on a crucial trading zone and one of the nation's most significant industrial precincts, Port Kembla, New South Wales. Amidst growing debate over the future of port infrastructures and urban industrial land, a novel interdisciplinary, place-based approach aims to understand how industrial ports and surrounding communities endure and evolve over time. Expected outcomes include timely archiving of recent industrial, worker and migrant histories, new knowledge that will contribute to resilient industrial port regions and economies, and an evidence base for future strategic thinking around industrial port infrastructure. 

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2020-2022)

Outcomes

COVID-19 and the shifting industrial landscape

Researchers

Project Description

The Urban Cultural Policy project undertakes comparative international case study research around the changing dynamics of the creative economy, particularly the emergent relationships with a complex urban manufacturing sector. It considers the performance of Australian cities in comparison with counterparts in the United States, UK, China and Germany, on their efforts to foster and deepen the creative industries/manufacturing interface through spatial planning and policy. Relationships between cultural industries and urban manufacturing are examined. Researchers are documenting how changing industry, urban development, land use change, technological, and policy dynamics affect cultural production. The project aims to identify lessons for Australian cities to develop new policies around cultural production and manufacturing.

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (2017-2020)

Outcomes

Peer-reviewed academic publications

Project reports

Media Coverage

Researchers

Project Description

This project addresses the critical knowledge gap around COVID-19 disruptions to city centre economic geographies. It will longitudinally document and analyse post-pandemic reassembling of these geographies, focused on a bellwether sector—creative work—hard hit by the pandemic yet central to urban economic recovery planning. Spatial ethnographies of creative work will reveal shifts in space use, work practices, economic diversification, networks, and on-the-ground adaptations. The project will generate essential new practical knowledge of city centre reconfigurations and networks of creative industries across metropolitan spaces. Its benefits will include vital insights for urban policy to support resilient and inclusive recovery.

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Project  DP220100756

Outcomes

Indicative publications

Watch this space!