The State of Australian Cities Conference 2017

The 8th State of Australian Cities Conference was held in Adelaide from 28–30 November 2017.

Conference Highlights
The conference began with a Welcome Reception at the Adelaide Town Hall on 27 November and formally with a Welcome to Country from Taylor Tipu Power-Smith, a proud Kaurna woman on the morning of 28 November. The Opening Address was delivered by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and this was followed by a keynote address from Professor John Spoehr, Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, who provided a perspective for interstate and overseas visitors on the economic and social challenges facing South Australia a month or so after the last car rolled off the production line at Elizabeth’s Holden factory.

A highlight of the first day was the Public City Lecture delivered by Associate Professor Libby Porter entitled
From an urban country to urban Country: Confronting the cult of denial in Australian cities’.

Refereed papers at SOAC 2017 were organized across the seven well-established themes of Economy, Environment, Governance, Structure, Movement and Infrastructure, Housing and Social, and Health. There were also three significant plenary panel sessions on Housing Affordability, Urban Resilience and the continuing challenge of achieving more productive relationships between academic researchers and urban policymakers. The 2017 conference program also included a number of book launches, a ‘Women in Cities Research’ lunch, a series of workshops organized by the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) and other events convened by ACRN and the Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network (AECURN). AECURN was centrally involved in the development of panels and other key program elements and is an increasingly important partner in SOAC.

As 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the First Australian Town Planning and Housing Conference and Exhibition held in Adelaide, SOAC celebrated this seminal event in Australian planning history in a number of ways, including an exhibition entitled The Australian Town Planning Conference and Exhibition 17-24 October 1917: In Retrospect. There was also a public lecture reflecting on the events of 1917 by Professor Robert Freestone on the evening of the first day. This lecture formed the Planning Institute of Australia’s annual Tom McKenna lecture and took place on UniSA’s City West campus. The official proceedings of the 1917 Australian Town Planning and Housing Conference are now available to SOAC delegates and anyone else interested at: 


Most other SOAC events were held at the University of Adelaide campus but the third host university, Flinders, provided the venue for the biennial PhD symposium, which was a large and hugely successful event.

Peter Harrison Memorial Prizes
The Peter Harrison Memorial Prizes are awarded at each SOAC conference to the best papers in two categories – one limited to PhD scholars and one open to established researchers. At SOAC 2017 the prizes were awarded as follows:

PhD Prize
Anthony Karro (Curtin University)
‘Qualitative Evaluation for Built Environment Soundscapes: Report on a Prototype Data Collection Tool’

Open Prize
Shanaka Herath (University of Wollongong) and Rebecca Bentley (University of Melbourne)
‘Crowding. Housing and Health: An Exploratory Study of Australian Cities’

The papers from SOAC are now being prepared for cataloguing and uploading to APO. We anticipate that they will be available on-line early in 2018.

Emeritus Professor Stephen Hamnett
SOAC 2017 Organising Committee

Local Organising Committee

Emeritus Professor Stephen Hamnett (Chair)
University of South Australia

Associate Professor Emma Baker
University of Adelaide

Dr Kathryn Davidson
University of South Australia

Associate Professor Christine Garnaut
University of South Australia

Dr Nicholas Holyoak
Flinders University

Professor Jon Kellett
University of Adelaide

Dr Jasmine Palmer (AECURN Rep)
University of South Australia

Dr Matthew Rofe
University of South Australia

Professor Rocco Zito
Flinders University

Meeting Secretariat

For further information, please contact the Meeting Manager:

Lara Malcolm
The Meeting People Pty Ltd
PO Box 764, Mitcham SA 5062, AUS
T  +61 8 8177 2215

Host Institutions

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