Before the pandemic, cities experienced rising slum dweller populations, worsening air pollution, minimal open public spaces and limited convenient access to public transport. The COVID-19 direct and indirect impacts are making reaching the goal even more unlikely.
– United Nations

We are playing our part in achieving this goal through targeted research, industry collaborations and university initiatives.

Direct actions by the university include renewable energy agreements, water recycling and energy-efficient buildings.

Collaboration with community and industry partners brings into our research into sharper focus, with projects addressing sustainable packaging, water infrastructure and use of waste products in building materials.

11: Sustainable cities & communiities (builidings icons)

Research projects & engagement 2020-21

Dr Jillian Marsh, Dr Clare Land and Dr Paola Balla in Centring Indigenous Peoples, Standpoints and Knowledges within Planetary Health, examined the needed support to achieve VU’s planetary health agenda and the Universities Australia strategy to Indigenise tertiary curricula. Related to this Professor Chris Sonn, Karen Jackson and Dr Paola Balla and Dr Clare Land looked at new opportunities and settings for VU students and non-Indigenous staff to engage with Critical Race Praxis Research & Teaching.

Karen Jackson, Dr Paola Balla, Professor Chris Sonn, Dr Amy Quayle and Rowena Price examined the context and issues for ‘Connecting Aboriginal women to Country through local healing practices’, leading to the further project Blak Women’s Healing which extends this work by collecting stories of incarcerated Aboriginal women, or those at risk, drawing on their cultural practices, to build resilience, connection and identity.

Elliott Flowers joined researchers from Australia and Belgium in Exploring Children’s Views on Important Park Features to understand how parks can be better designed to encourage children’s use and physical activity.

Professor Gary Foley and Dr Clare Land from Moondani Balluk Indigenous Unit were awarded an ARC Special Research Initiative (Linkage) grant for a project to investigate the connection between the origins of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Movement and two Melbourne-based Black Power educational programs. This project will further inform the Aboriginal History Archive recording the history of Indigenous activism for self-determination.

Professor Christopher Sonn, Rama Agung Igusti, Samuel Keast and Amy Quayle were invited to contribute an article to the InPsych journal on Unsettling psychology: Whiteness and the cost to black lives.

Dr Mengbi Li examines underlying concepts and expressions of cultural, social and political meaning in architectural design. From this perspective, Dr Li contributed to media and panel discussions of how COVID-19 is making people rethink building design. In Reviewing the Notion of Progress in the Quest for Sustainability: The Example of Chinese Architecture, Dr Li proposes that the modern Chinese concept of progress, developed in a period of national crisis, needs a critical rethink in the context of sustainability and low-carbon living.

Research by members of the Community Identify Displacement Research Group, led by Professor Chris Sonn, has informed policy and practice in the City of Brimbank’s Neighbourhood Houses and Community Centres, Brimbank’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy and delivery of Brimbank’s People Strategy and the Neighbourhood House Strategy and Action Plan.

Footscray University Town is a ground-breaking partnership between Victoria University and Maribyrnong City Council to advance liveability and prosperity for the area. Under this banner is a series of projects to enliven Footscray as a hub of knowledge, learning, creativity and opportunity. In 2020 this included the completion of the Footscray Smart City project and the Footscray Art Prize awards.

The efforts over the past 6 years were rewarded, in 2020 by the Victorian State Government announcement that Footscray would become a Priority Precinct for development as a key cultural, commercial and education hub in the region.

Professor Tony Birch was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing for The White Girl and was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Prize.

The Graduate Certificate of Planetary Health was launched in 2020. The first program in Australia of its kind, the course encompasses Indigenous philosophies and perspectives of colonialism and sustainability.

 Karen Jackson

Research & learning addressing Goal 11