On a sweltering Sydney evening on January 17th the Incubator hosted its inaugural Policy Roundtable under the theme “Living with Water: Questions for Policy and Action”. In doing so, we sought to address some of the issues that have demanded our attention thus far, connecting the significance of water – quality, supply, and infrastructure – to effective housing policy and provision.
The panel followed a Welcome to Country by Uncle Allan Murray who spoke to us about the University’s siting on unceded Aboriginal land containing creeks made invisible by buildings and other infrastructure. The discussion involved a panel made up of Tess Lea (Chief Investigator of the Housing for Health Incubator), Lauren Walker (North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency), David Morris (CEO, Environmental Defenders Office NSW), Aron Chang (Urban designer, New Orleans), and Robert Griew (Principal, Nous Group). While Tess, Lauren, David, Aron, and Robert represent a disparate range of expertise and institutional locations, together their skills constitute the collective knowledge and approach that is required to tackle challenges which in the real world don’t respect disciplinary, institutional or geographic boundaries – namely, housing provision, environmental protection, and climate change. In short, how can we ensure that the houses built tomorrow are secured against water supply, quality, infrastructure, and climate challenges for generations to come?
In addition to thanking our wonderful panellists, some of whom travelled a long way to join us, we would like to thank the Incubators sponsors: the Henry Halloran Trust, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Marie Bashir Institute, the University of Sydney Medical School, and the Fred Hollows Foundation. This particular event was made possible by financial support gratefully received from the Sydney Environment Institute and UNSW’s Global Water Institute, to whom we owe special thanks.