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Planning Australia’s Healthy Built Environments

16 April 2019
Lecture and book launch
Dr Jennifer Kent discusses how better urban planning can tackle chronic and costly diseases within Australian cities, followed by the launch of Planning Australia’s Healthy Built Environments.

Many of the chronic and costly diseases facing Australia are related to the way we live in cities. The speed of modern life clashes with increasing inequity to ensure health promoting activities such as regular physical activity, community interaction and the preparation of healthy food become low priorities.

Australian urban planners are at the frontline of the way our cities are shaped and managed. They therefore play a pivotal role in addressing modern health issues. In this lecture, University of Sydney Robinson Fellow Dr Jennifer Kent will discussed some of the ways better urban planning can promote health, proposing key changes that need to occur in Australian cities.

Park with a water fountain and people sitting on steps


The lecture was followed by the launch of the first text on healthy cities written exclusively for the Australian context – Planning Australia’s Healthy Built Environments. Joining Dr Kent was co-author Professor Susan Thompson for a conversation about the book and some insights into how Australia is creating health supportive cities.

About the speakers

Dr Jennifer Kent is a Robinson Fellow at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Dr Kent's research interests are at the intersections between urban planning, transport and human health. She specialises in combining quantitative and qualitative data with understandings from policy science to trace the practical, cultural and political barriers to healthy cities. Key issues examined to date include the links between health and higher density living, the interpretation of health evidence into urban planning policy, the health impacts of extended commute times, and cultural and structural barriers to sustainable transport use.

Professor Susan Thompson is a Professor of Planning in the Faculty of the Built Environment at UNSW. With a foundation in public sector planning practice, Professor Thompson's academic career has encompassed research and teaching in social and cultural planning, qualitative research methodologies and healthy built environments. She led the Healthy Built Environments Program from 2010-2014 and now heads the City Wellbeing Program at UNSW. She has received various awards for her contributions to urban planning, including the Sidney Luker Memorial Medal in 2015.

Heather Nesbitt is a thought leader, strategic advisor and innovator for liveability, quality of life and wellbeing. Her most recent role was Social Commissioner, Greater Sydney Commission where she drove an agenda to support inclusive, connected and equitable communities across Greater Sydney. With over 30 years experience working with government, private sector, non-profits and local communities, Ms Nesbitt has delivered urban renewal, greenfield and regional projects which include innovative approaches to the built environment for better health and wellbeing outcomes.