Key Presenters


Jay Weatherill MP LLB BEc GDLP

Jay Weatherill is South Australia’s 45th Premier.

Jay was born and educated in Adelaide’s western suburbs, completing his secondary education at Henley High School.

He is a lawyer with an economics degree. He established his own law firm in 1995 and practised until he was elected as the Member for Cheltenham in 2002. Jay was subsequently re-elected as Member for Cheltenham in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

He has previously held a range of senior Cabinet portfolios including Education, Early Childhood Development, Environment & Conservation, Aboriginal Affairs & Reconciliation, Minister Assisting the Premier in Cabinet Business & Public Sector Management, Families & Communities, Housing, Ageing, Disability, Urban Development & Planning, Administrative Services, Local Government and Gambling.

Jay held additional portfolio responsibilities including Treasury, from January 2013 until the March 2014 election. Following the successful 2014 election, he was sworn in as Premier of South Australia on 26 March 2014.

Jay and his wife Melissa have two young daughters, Lucinda and Alice.


Jason Bailey

Jason Bailey leads the team delivering the Planning and Design Code for the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. The Code is a centrepiece of the South Australian Government’s ambitious planning reform agenda under the landmark 2016 Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act.

Jason has over 15 years of planning practice experience spanning statutory, policy and strategy roles across urban and regional environments and the public and private sectors in South Australia. Prior to his current role Jason led the provision of pre-lodgement and development assessment services for state significant development in Adelaide’s CBD and its inner metropolitan urban corridors. This followed project leadership roles in respect of various state significant planning policy reform initiatives – including the development of  planning policy regimes for urban corridors, growth areas and windfarms.


Associate Professor Emma Baker

Associate Professor Emma Baker leads the Healthy Cities Research Group at the University of Adelaide. A geographer by training, her research is focused on the role of housing and residential location in improving health and wellbeing. Her work is intentionally interdisciplinary and collaborative, combining methods and understanding from econometrics, social epidemiology, architecture, geography and building science. Her recent published work includes a spatial analysis of urban densities, analyses of the effectiveness of housing affordability measures, a cross national comparison of the health effects of housing, and the construction of a national housing conditions data infrastructure. Her current ARC Future Fellowship is focused on the emerging issue of multiple housing problems and their effects on health and wellbeing.      

Associate Professor Rebecca Bentley

Associate Professor Rebecca Bentley is a Principal Research Fellow in Social Epidemiology in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH), Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. She has a disciplinary background in psychology and epidemiology, and her current research involves understanding how housing affordability, location and conditions influence health, wellbeing and social outcomes; working with a range of organisations in Victoria to understand how local and regional environments shape active transport use; and collaborating nationally on the development of a housing conditions survey in Australia. Rebecca was awarded the Mike Berry Award for Excellence in Housing Research by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in 2015 and currently holds an ARC Future Fellowship. 


Professor Lars Coenen

Professor Coenen is an economic geographer and scholar in innovation studies. He joined the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne in January 2017 as the inaugural ‘City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities’, an initiative between the City of Melbourne and University of Melbourne aimed at improving the city’s resilience to sustainability challenges. Prior to this, he was full professor at CIRCLE, the Centre for Innovation, Research, and Competence in the Learning Economy at Lund Universities, one of the world-leading interdisciplinary research centres in innovation studies. Here he was heading a research group dealing with innovation and sustainability transitions.

His research interests converge around the geography of innovation: Why is it that some regions and cities in the world stand out in their ability to foster and diffuse novelty? What explains this spatial concentration of innovation in an era of globalisation? How can regions and cities improve their capacity to innovate? In particular he is interested in addressing this broad set of questions on innovations related to pressing societal challenges such as climate change.

Professor Coenen is well-known internationally for his work on regional and urban innovation and, more recently, his pioneering research on the geography of environmental innovation and sustainability transitions. He is author of more than 30 scientific papers published in leading international journals such as Research Policy, Environment and Planning A and Economic Geography. His work has had considerable scientific impact with over 5000 citations in Scholar Google. Most of his research has been supported through competitive grants, financed e.g. by JPI Urban Europe, the European Framework 7 Program, the Swedish Energy Agency and Nordic Energy Research. During his time at CIRCLE in Sweden, Professor Coenen has been a frequent scientific advisor for the Swedish Innovation Agency, VINNOVA. 


Dr Lyrian Daniel

Dr Lyrian Daniel is a postdoctoral research fellow within the Healthy Cities Research Group at The University of Adelaide. She was awarded her PhD with the Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence in March 2016. With a background in architectural science, her PhD research sought to understand the thermal behaviours and preferences of households living in low-energy dwellings in Australia.

She is the most recent recipient of the Federal Ministers Award for Early Career Housing Researcher from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute for her work on housing affordability stress and relative material deprivation.

Her current research spans the architectural science and housing research fields to examine the impacts of Australia’s hidden cold housing phenomenon, incorporating issues of housing stress, energy poverty, housing conditions and national performance standards.


Dr Paula Hooper

Dr Paula Hooper is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Built Environment and Health, University of Western Australia. Paula is a Research Fellow at the Centre for the Built Environment and Health, based in the Schools of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia. Dr Hooper’s multidisciplinary research work has studied the impact of the built environment and urban design on health and wellbeing and has had a strong focus on policy-relevance and research-translation, for which she has won numerous planning industry-based awards.


Professor Ralph Horne

Ralph Horne is Professor of Geography and focuses on social and policy change to support sustainable urban development, housing and households. The spatial, material and contingent social and policy structures at play are the main focus of his work on both the making and shaping of urban environments.

He is Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation for the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University, and Director of the Cities Programme, the urban arm of the United Nations Global Compact. He combines research leadership and participation in research projects concerning the environmental, social and policy context of production and consumption in the urban environment. 


Dr Joe Hurley

Joe Hurley is a Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Urban Planning at RMIT University and a member of the Centre for Urban Research. His research focuses on the intersection between urban planning and urban sustainability, in particular on the role of urban governance and policy in producing sustainable outcomes. 

Joe is a chief investigator in the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, a six year program of research under the National Environmental Science program. Within the hub he leads a project called ‘Making Greening Happen in Consolidating Cities’ which interrogates urban development, urban vegetation and the role of strategic and statutory planning in sustaining an urban forest. 

Joe takes a particular interest in the relationship between research and practice worlds and is actively involved in work to reduce the barriers to exchange and enhance collaboration. 


Professor Jon Kellett

Professor Jon Kellett is Professor of Property and Planning at Adelaide University. He has long standing research interests in sustainability and cities and has researched extensively in the areas of energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation. He increasingly works in an interdisciplinary  context and is currently looking at ways in which cities may respond to the  introduction of autonomous vehicle technology. As programme director of Masters degrees in Planning and Property he has research interests in  the interface between the world of property development and  urban policy frameworks. 


Dr Maria Kornakova

Dr Maria Kornakova is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Massey University, New Zealand. An architect by training, she received her MA in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University as a Fulbright Scholar, and her PhD and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her current research focuses on developing applied research that builds understanding and capability to bridge the risk–resilience–sustainability nexus, with a particular focus on the role of built environment in disaster risk reduction. In collaboration with a number of leading academics and professionals, Maria has recently participated in the organisation of the Academic-Practitioner Collaboration for Urban Shelter, South Pacific (APCUS-SP) that aims to develop an effective and fast mechanism to bridge the practice-research divide in emergency response and recovery in the Pacific region.


Professor Chris Leishman

Professor Chris Leishman is a housing economist, and is Director of the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Adelaide. Chris is currently an editor for the Urban Studies journal, and was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Housing Studies journal. He has undertaken a large number of studies funded by UK central, devolved and local government departments, for third sector organisations including CRISIS and Centrepoint, and a range of academic funders including the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

He has led numerous consultancies for private sector firms, third and public sector organisations, and has published extensively in the economics of housing systems and markets, and subjects concerning the interface between individuals’ choices (behavioural analysis), and outcomes in the housing system. He is perhaps best known for his contributions to understanding the economics of new-build housing supply, the linkages between housing supply and housing affordability, and modelling the housing system as a complex interaction between demographic, housing, labour market, housing supply, and migratory dynamics.

As a new academic arrival in Australia, Chris is keen to develop his understanding of the economics of housing supply in the Australian context.


Brendan Nelson

Brendan is the National President of the Planning Institute of Australia and Deputy Secretary – Growth, Design and Programs with the NSW Department for Planning and Environment. Prior to this, Brendan was Director – Asia Pacific at Hawksley Consulting, General Manager – Land Use Planning at Queensland Reconstruction Authority and Executive Director – Planning Services at the Department of Infrastructure and Planning Growth Management, Queensland.

Brendan has more than 20 years’ national and international experience in the private and public sector and holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Griffith University) and Graduate Diploma of Urban and Regional Planning (with Distinction) from QUT. Brendan’s management of significant resilience projects saw him named Queensland Planner of the Year in 2011 and the inaugural Australian Planner of the Year in 2012 by PIA. He is a member of the American Planning Association and Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Brendan is motivated by shaping strategic thinking in urban planning practice and has a proven ability to undertake complex planning projects with a focus on achieving and devising practical solutions. He is well known for his strong commitment to advancing and enhancing the quality of communities through clear, logical and participatory planning and stakeholder engagement. Brendan is a leading advocate for the importance of planning nationally.


Dr Libby Porter

Associate Professor Libby Porter is Vice Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University.

Her work is principally about urban dispossession and displacement in different contexts, with a recent focus on the possessory politics of urban property rights. She is widely published on the fraught relationship between urban and environmental planning processes and Indigenous peoples. Her early work in Unlearning the Colonial Cultures of Planning (Ashgate 2010), exposed planning as a significant force in settler-colonial processes of Indigenous dispossession. Her new book with Janice Barry, Planning for Co-existence? (Routledge 2016), examines the contemporary politics of Indigenous recognition of in planning systems in Canada and Australia. A forthcoming book, Planning in Indigenous Australia: From imperial foundations to postcolonial futures (Routledge 2018) co-authored with Sue Jackson and Louise Johnson, rewrites the history and future of Australian urban planning and its relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Libby is also internationally known for her work on as a scholar-activist on the displacement effects of urban regeneration, the impacts of major sporting events on host cities, planning and sustainable urban regeneration, urban governance, and the politics of urban informality. Libby is Assistant Editor of the journal Planning Theory and Practice. She co-founded Planners Network UK, a progressive voice for radical planning in northern Europe and is an active member of Planners Network (North America) and the International Network of Urban Research and Action. She has taught planning, public policy and geography at the University of Birmingham, the University of Sheffield, the University of Glasgow and Monash University. 

Libby Porter will be delivering the ‘Public City Lecture’ at SOAC 2017.


Dr Kate Raynor

Dr Kate Raynor is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on housing, particularly in relation to the partnerships required to deliver affordable and social housing and the perceptions surrounding higher density housing in Australia.

Kate supports the Transforming Housing Research Partnership, an interdisciplinary action research project based within the Melbourne School of Design. This role involves work in research, advocacy, industry engagement and industry training and capacity building aimed at increasing housing outcomes for very low to moderate income households in Melbourne. Through this project, her work is focused on creating research-industry collaborations and directly influencing government policy.

Prior to becoming an academic, Kate worked in digital communications and community engagement companies using 3D modelling and online communication tools to support large-scale infrastructure projects.

Professor John Spoehr

John Spoehr is Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University where he is a Strategic Professor. John has written extensively on economic and industry development, employment, unemployment and the socio-economic impact of change. He co-founded the Stretton Centre in partnership with the City of Playford, the Government of South Australia and the Australian Government.

John is playing a leading role in the establishment of the South Australian node of the Innovative Manufacturing CRC. He is a regular commentator on economic and social issues and a columnist for The Adelaide Review.  His most recent edited books include State of South Australia – from crisis to prosperity and The Engaging State – South Australia’s engagement with the Asia Pacific Region, both published by Wakefield Press.


Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens is Professor of Public Policy and Director of The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. His principal research interest lies in the relationship between poverty and housing, and in particular, whether housing policy can act as a "corrective” to poverty and income inequality. He also has a long-standing interest in housing market institutions and in their relationship with price volatility.

He has led many research projects including the EU Study on Housing Exclusion (European Commission), the Evaluation of English Housing Policy (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Housing Market Taskforce. He is currently leading the Wider Impact of Housing theme the new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence. He has been Lead Panel member on a UK Government Expert Panel on housing, is a member of the AHURI Peer Review Panel and an Editor of Urban Studies.

Dr Karen Vella

Dr Karen Vella is a Senior Lecturer in Urban and Regional Planning at Queensland University of Technology. Her research evaluates complex governance systems and aims to diagnose critical problems for policy reform.

She works closely with state, federal and local government agencies to institutionalise frameworks for more integrated and evidence-based decision making. She is particularly focused on building and integrating information about human dimensions (governance, social, and cultural factors) and social resilience into urban and environmental policy making.  Though often neglected in policy deliberations, social assets are fundamental to on-the-ground implementation.

Dr Vella is heavily involved in the Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program. It underpins the Australian and Queensland government reporting to UNESCO over the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. It will also underpin the revision of the two key bi-lateral plans – the Reef Long Term Sustainability Plan and the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.  The reporting and plan review work includes a Human Dimensions Program for the fist time in the history of managing the GBR. This has been a hard fought outcome spanning 15+ years of framework development, peer review, partnership development, and persistent campaigning.

She has also helped shape urban and regional sustainability planning and policy for climate mitigation and adaptation, natural resource management, and duty of care frameworks for urban and regional development.