Join us


Activities and upcoming events

Policy Roundtables

Healthy Housing Standards | 12 December 2019

A Public Policy Roundtable Featuring

Dan Kelly (Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights)

Dr. Lucy Telfar-Barnard (University of Otago)

Jane Bender (Gunida Gunyah Aboriginal Corporation)

Louise Weber (Aboriginal Housing NT)

In this moment of significant Australian regulatory reform, this policy roundtable explores the potential of healthy housing standards and what is required for their effective implementation. It aims to draw together professionals who are differently positioned in relation to rental housing quality issues, with expertise in policy-making, litigation, property management, construction standards, and environmental health. The roundtable will include short presentations on the pursuit and implementation of healthy housing standards internationally, and on the limits of current Australian law for responding to housing neglect. Presentations aim to orient a set of open-minded, exploratory discussions about what healthy housing standards offer to tenants and practitioners, what revised provisions should include, and what effects these might have for landlords, housing associations, tenants, and tenant advocates.

When: Thursday December 12, 2019, 11:00-16:30

Where: SOPHI Common Room, 822, Brennan MacCallum Building, University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus.

Living with Water: Questions for Policy and Action | 17 January 2019

A Public Policy Roundtable Featuring

Tess Lea (Chair, Housing for Health Incubator, University of Sydney)

Lauren Walker (North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency)

David Morris (EDO NSW)

Aron Chang (Ripple Effect)

Robert Griew (Nous Group)

This public event draws together scholars and professionals to explore environmental issues demanding immediate policy attention and political action. Centrally, how is climate change forcing communities to rethink and rework how they live with water? What adaptive responses have we already witnessed to water under-supply, contamination, and shifting landscapes, and what needs to change?

Across their work, these panelists have applied their diverse disciplinary expertise to the challenges of how we detect environmental toxicities, reform urban design and education, attend to contemporary housing issues, discern the intentions of extractive industries, and develop legal, policy, and political responses. They share a commitment to developing effective political alliances that recognise the effects of contemporary environmental challenges are not equally distributed but must be approached collectively.

Discussion at this policy roundtable will focus on the collaborations underpinning panelists’ research and community engagement, examining their importance to determining appropriate policy responses, effecting political influence, and narrating policy successes.


When: Thursday January 17th 5pm for 5:30-7:00

Where: Wilkinson Lecture Theatre 250, 148 City Road, Wilkinson Building, University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus.

This free event is open to the public.

Registration details here.

For queries please contact:

Public Events

Infrastructural Inequalities: Building Research Cultures and Infrastructures of Study | 17 May 2021

Interdisciplinary research, public engagement, impact, and social collaboration are key features of contemporary university discourse. Yet achieving such outcomes can be difficult for individual academic workers, in part because of what is institutionally recognised, required, and rewarded – by grants assessors, hiring and promotion committees, media units, and so on. Slow scholarship, a politics of care, and scholactivism are all ways of framing modes of academic labour that contrast with the neoliberal demands of endless production of a generic high quality, yet it is not always clear how to action such approaches, including from positions of insecure work. The dissection of academic research from teaching, the branding demands of corporate universities, and the institutional anticipation of shifting metrics tied to funding can all stand in the way.

This workshop uses Infrastructural Inequalities as one among many approaches to collaboration aimed at public intellectual culture. For us, it is an attempt to build a social infrastructure for critical thinking and public engagement: how to generate projects that enliven such principles in ways that are meaningful, ethical, pleasurable, and practically possible. Describing the Infrastructural Inequalities project, the workshop will reflect on why we might collaborate, with whom, and the ethics and challenges of doing so. It introduces the forms that collaboration can take – such as reading groups, co-authorship, exhibitions and public programs, organising, independent publishing – and asks participants to share experiences and explore techniques for pursuing different forms.
This workshop is aimed at higher degree research students and early career researchers with an interest in thinking about various forms of academic production. Led by Andrew Brooks, Liam Grealy, Astrid Lorange, and Tess Lea its success will depend on the thoughtful engagement of all participants, in relation to past projects, present difficulties, and future aspirations. Participation for the workshop on the afternoon of Monday 17 May will be in-person and capped.

If you are interested, please submit 300-500 words on:
• What do you research?
• What are the infrastructures that your research engages with and/or depends on?
• What are the impediments to your desired project or approach?
• What aspect(s) of collaboration would you like this workshop to consider and why?

Submissions should be made to by 5pm Monday 26 April.

Infrastructural Inequalities: Resistant Media and Abolitionist Futures | 14 & 17 May 2021

What is abolition a call for? And how does it relate to the question of infrastructure? Abolition moves beyond calls to simply reform prisons and policing, positing that an end to structural racism and state violence requires upending the political, economic, and social conditions that produce them. A crucial part of the revolutionary agenda of abolition is to intervene in the reproduction of existing inequalities and to build material infrastructures and networks of care that support people’s needs before they find themselves in precarious situations. Abolition seeks the transformation of the world, but it is not content to wait for a world-historical revolutionary rupture. It is also a set of practices that intervene in existing inequalities by building and organising alternative social infrastructures that facilitate and gesture to ways of living outside the racial capital relation.

This public program, facilitated by Infrastructural Inequalities, follows the publication of the Infrastructural Inequalities Journal: Policing, Crisis, Abolition, a special issue focused on carceral infrastructures and the struggle to abolish them. Bringing together speakers whose research, activism, and creative practice converge on the problem of carcerality and the hopefulness of abolition, the program will comprise two panels. The first will focus on abolition as a critical practice and as a mode of organizing; the second will focus on resistant media and the possibilities of storytelling. Both panels will be livestreamed on YouTube.

1. Critiquing the Carceral State, Organising Abolitionist Futures
Friday May 14
11:30 – 13:00am (AEST)
Streaming live through YouTube
Featuring: Tabitha Lean, Debbie Kilroy, Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian

2. Resistant Media and Abolitionist Storytelling
Monday May 17
10:00 – 11:30am (AEST)
Streaming live through YouTube
Featuring: Alison Whittaker with Astrid Lorange; Johanna Bell and Rocket Bretherton with Liam Grealy

Fieldtrip. What Does it Take to Get a Drink Here? | 5 September 2019

What does it take to get a drink here? Delivering potable water in New Orleans

New Orleans residents are familiar with boil water advisories. Many locals install filters on their kitchen taps. Others consume bottled water, concerned about the presence of heavy metals and chemical contamination in the municipal supply. As in every context, a small proportion of people know where their drinking water comes from and fewer still how its potability is ensured. This Making & Doing workshop is focused on the labour, expertise, social relations, chemicals, geography, and infrastructures that combine to deliver safe and palatable drinking water to New Orleanians.

This fieldtrip to the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Carrollton Water Treatment Plant aims to trace the flow of water from the Mississippi River to the kitchen tap, considering the treatment, storage, distribution practices, and leaks along the way. While the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is well renowned for articulating the planning and design practices required for a resilient New Orleans to live with water, it does not address drinking water. Yet the features that exacerbate the impact of stormwater (topography, soils, climate, weather, urban design, policy, repairs and maintenance, etc.) also generate pressures on drinking water infrastructures. This multidisciplinary workshop examines those pressures, the ongoing work to alleviate them, and impediments to the security of New Orleans drinking water.

Infrastructural Inequalities | 6-7 October 2018

A collaborative symposium and exhibition, held in partnership with the critical art collective, Snack Syndicate. October 6-7 at Artspace, Woolloomooloo.

Infrastructural Inequalities is a two-day public program that will bring together researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds for collaborative dialogue and exchange around infrastructure – its forms, distributions and potentials. A joint project between the critical art collective Snack Syndicate and the Housing for Health Incubator at the University of Sydney, the event is organised around two key themes that intersected and overlap: ‘Living Infrastructures’ which will explore pre-invasion infrastructures, architecture and design, bureaucracy and waste; and ‘Data Infrastructures’ which will examine prediction, data collection and curation, logistics, data mining, and surveillance.

The event asks: In what ways do infrastructures produce unequal distributions of access to the resources necessary for living? What conceptual, material, and political challenges impede more just distributions? And, how can we respond to and intervene in states of infrastructural inequality?

Infrastructural Inequalities features contributions from: Fiona Allon, Dean Cross, Keg De Souza, Jack Green, Gay Hawkins, Karrabing Film Collective, Kirsty Howey, Monica Monin, Michael Mossman, Anna Munster, Joseph Pugliese, Michael Richardson, Joel Sherwood-Spring, Uncle Jimmy Smith, Kynan Tan, Paul Torzillo, Marian Tubbs, Eve Vincent, and more.

Schedule here

Liam Grealy’s opening talk to the event, “Who needs a drink? Introducing infrastructural inequalities”, is available here.


A Repairs and Maintenance-led Recovery? | February 2021

Liam Grealy presented the talk “A Repairs and Maintenance-Led Recovery?” at the Our Jobs, Climate, and Community: Planning a Just Recovery for the Territory forum in Darwin.

Deep Impact Takes Dry Work | November 2020

Tess Lea and Liam Grealy presented the talk “Deep Impact Takes Dry Work” at the Festival of Urbanism, reporting on the impact of the Housing for Health Incubator since 2018.

Reducing the Impact of Heatwaves | 11 March 2020

Tess Lea joined Joanne Corcoran, Ollie Jay, Stephanie Macfarlane, and David Schosberg for the panel ‘Reducing the Impact of Heatwaves: Bodies, Housing, and Cool Suburbs’, hosted by the Sydney Environment Institute. A revised version of Lea’s talk is available here.

Climate Justice Summit | 5-6 March 2020

At the Climate Justice Summit in Alice Springs, led by Jesuit Social Services, NTCOSS, Environment Centre NT, Arid Lands Environment Centre, and the Central Land Council, Tess Lea presented the paper ‘Transformative Adaptation–Addressing the Injustices of Climate Vulnerability’ and Kirsty Howey presented the paper ‘Who is the Law For? Water Protections in the NT’.  A summary of the event’s discussions and outcomes is available at Protect Country Alliance, here.

Disassembly: Governing Indigenous Housing Neglect | 4 December 2019

Liam Grealy presented the paper ‘Disassembly: Governing Indigenous Housing Neglect at the Cultural Studies Association of Australasia conference at the University of Queensland.

This paper considers how housing governance accelerates the breakdown and dysfunction of regional and remote Indigenous housing. Drawing on anthropologies of bureaucracy and critical analyses of time, it’s structured in three parts, highlighting particular legal-bureaucratic instruments alongside related figures of temporal subjection: the lease as promise; the condition report and waiting; and the tender and repetition. This structure highlights differentiated unfurlings of generic policy instruments in various local assemblages. It analyses how such instruments undermine adequate Indigenous housing provision in the Territory – governing neglect – while grasping the utility, if not necessity, of those instruments for effective housing governance.

Governing Drinking Water in the Northern Territory, UBC | 22 November 2019

3:30-5:00pm, Charles Diamond Seminar Room (111)

Kirsty Howey and Liam Grealy will present the paper “Securing Supply: Governing Drinking Water in the Northern Territory” in the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Infrastructural Inequalities and Toxic Sovereignty Under Late Liberalism, AAA | 21 November 2019

 AAA/CASCA Conference, Vancouver, November 21, 2019, 4:15-6:00pm, CC EAST | Room 7  | East Meeting Level

Join us for a panel at the 2019 AAA/CASCA conference in Vancouver. Speakers include Tess Lea, Elizabeth Povinelli, Eve Vincent, Kirsty Howey, Benedict Scambary, Liam Grealy, Sarah E. Holcombe, and Dominic Boyer (discussant).

Panel abstract as follows:  Infrastructures – the roads, electrical cables, telecommunications networks, sewerage systems, and water pipes necessary for society’s functioning – have been foregrounded as an anthropological subject. Often framed as emancipatory and progressive, in a time of environmental crisis it is becoming more and more apparent that the sedimented networks through which goods, ideas, power, people and money circulate (Larkin, 2013) are also differentially distributed, variably thwarted or enabled, inhibiting the possibilities for existing well in the Anthropocene (Boyer, 2018 and Povinelli 2011). What appears for some as a future racing towards the earth as a final end is for others merely the ongoing ends of forms of infrastructure that have and continue to poison and dispossess them.
In this panel, we invite speakers to re-think the connective tissue of infrastructures anthropologically, exploring how they function to distribute goods, value, and health for some while dispossessing, poisoning, and deforming the worlds of others.
We ask what paying attention to the infrastructural surrounds and their invisible sustenance systems can reveal about the longstanding catastrophe of late liberalism and potentials within and alongside it for radical change. How would the question of toxic infrastructural leakage look if passing through and situated within late settler liberalisms? And can critical theory and ethnography grapple with the vexed issue of conditions of viability, beyond attempted disavowals by conjuring an abstract Otherwise?

Blue House Fika for 4S Tess Lea | 12 September 2019

Tess Lea ‘Housing, Health, Hardware: Rethinking Policy through Infrastructural Inequalities’

The Blue House, New Orleans, September 12, 2019

This talk draws on work relating to health, housing and climate change, as these map on to infrastructural inequalities in regional and remote Australia. It asks us to rethink what policy is, using case studies of the difficulties of attracting attention to effective interventions. Tess will consider why it is important that optimistic abstractions like ‘better policy’ do not weaken our analyses of current and emerging challenges once climate change is factored in.

Tess Lea is an anthropologist who specializes in the anthropology of policy, especially policy dysfunction. Tess is Chief Investigator in the Housing for Health Incubator, an alliance of practitioners, theorists and policy shapers which aims to understand the obstacles to improved living conditions for Indigenous and other disadvantaged householders.

Blue House Fika for 4S Nick Shapiro | 5 September 2019

Nick Shapiro, ‘The Afterlives of the FEMA Trailers’

 The Blue House, New Orleans,September 5, 2019

This talk tracks the quasi-legal resale of post-Katrina emergency housing units that were found to harbor high formaldehyde levels. Nick spent a decade tracking these grey markets that led from New Orleans to every corner of the continent, tying the experiences of those who survived the flood to those enduring capital and housing crises all over the continent. If you lived in a FEMA trailer and still have access to the VIN number of your unit, Nick can tell you where it ended up.

Nick Shapiro is a critic and practitioner of environmental monitoring and mitigation, and his research revolves around the complex figure of formaldehyde. Nick is assistant professor of biology and society at UCLA and a fellow at the Technoscience Research Unit at the University of Toronto. See:

Permeable Housing and Intersecting Infrastructures, 4S | 4 September 2019

‘Permeable Housing and Intersecting Infrastructures’ Panel at 4S

Sheraton Hotel, New Orleans, September 4, 2019

At their most elemental, houses regulate relations between internal and external environments, providing a carapace for soft tissue residents from water, atmospheres, and vermin. But houses not only shelter bodies, they mimic them, their exoskeletons best conceived less as a box and more as living membrane: permeable, porous, pervious, and absorbent. Arterial pipes, wires, and cable networks intersect with housing to distribute water, energy, and waste; while matter penetrates the house itself, searching out cracks, refusing expulsion, and exposing bodies to diseases and reactants. Repair and maintenance regimes stave off this entropy, both for housing and the municipal infrastructures that make houses functional, safe, and enduring. Such attention, as with the geographies of infrastructural provisioning, are matters of both bureaucratic banality and major public conflict.

This panel is a collaboration between the Housing for Health Incubator and the Blue House Civic Studio, comparing and contrasting examples from Australia, the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and like environments. It asks: what infrastructures are required, and what work is needed to maintain them, to make housing habitable? What can STS insights on past, present, and future housing and infrastructural challenges (such as water supply and management) offer? What innovations are required to face these challenges – in architecture, urban design, governance, and community-engagement – and what battles are being fought to implement proven methods against neglect, erratic attention, and abandonment?

Alison Kenner, ‘The Climate-Ready Home: Thinking Through Landscapes of Vulnerability and Care in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’

Paola Villegas, ‘Situated Bodies and Toxic Certainty: How Mothers think comparatively about risk(s)’

Moritz F Fürst and Alain Bovet, ‘Healthy climate needs a service: maintaining HVAC infrastructures in times of transition’

Liam Grealy, ‘Mold Cultures’

A Top End STS Seminar | 15 May 2019

 Securing Supply: Governing Drinking Water in the Northern Territory

At this seminar, Incubator Researchers Dr Liam Grealy and Kirsty Howey will present on their current research into the supply and quality of drinking water in remote communities in the Northern Territory. Responding to water contamination incidents at Borroloola in April to June 2018, and elsewhere, the seminar outlines the available protections for drinking water supply in the NT. This research suggest first that the supply of drinking water in remote towns and communities is limited by the variations in water regulatory regimes across the NT which allow differential forms of responsibility, attention, procedure and intervention. Second, water governance is limited by how authorities are able to know the subterranean objects of governance themselves – including the underground bores and pipes which connect aquifers to houses and people.

‘Securing supply’ is the inaugural seminar of the Top End STS Dry Season Seminar Series.

Time and Venue:

3.30-4.30pm, Wednesday 15 May, 2019

Savannah Room (Yellow 1.2.48)

Charles Darwin University, Darwin

Blue House Fika Series on Housing | 6 December 2018

Indigenous Housing in Remote Australia, The Blue House, New Orleans, 6 December, 2018

Postdoctoral researcher Liam Grealy will speak in The Blue House Fika series about the contemporary housing policies in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, the work of Healthabitat and the Housing for Health Incubator, and his recent fieldwork in Borroloola with Kirsty Howey. The Blue House is a community where designers, writers, researchers, artists, activists, filmmakers, coders, teachers, entrepreneurs, developers, and others come together to share and shape a new kind of workspace. It runs a weekly Fika series which is currently focused on affordable housing.

Safe Water Summit | 29 - 30 November 2018

Safe Water Summit: A safe, sustainable water supply for remote-living Indigenous Australians,     University of Queensland, 29-30 November, 2018

Paul Torzillo, Director of Healthabitat and Industry Partner of the Incubator, will present a paper on “Housing for Health and Safe Water: Revisiting history to land in the present”.

See the Safe Water Summit website for more information and draft program.

Feral: A Nearly Carbon Neutral Conference | 26 November 2018

Feral: A Nearly Carbon-Neutral Conference, online, 26 November, 2018

Liam Grealy and Tess Lea will present the paper “Feral Policies for Housing Repair and Maintenance” at the Feral conference, hosted online by the Political Ecology Research Centre at Massey University. Presentations will be released across a period of three weeks in November.

Adapt NSW | 19 November 2018

On Monday 19 November 2018, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) will host its annual climate adaptation forum, Adapt NSW, @ Doltone House Darling Island Wharf.

Tess Lea and Christen Cornell will present on recent fieldwork from the research project “Climate change, housing and health: A scoping study into vulnerability, housing tenure and potential adaptation responses.”

This project funded under the NSW Adaptation Research Hub’s Human Health and Social Impacts Node, and includes case studies from the Sydney metro area, the Northern Rivers Region (Lismore and Byron Bay), and Inner NSW (Walgett and Dubbo).

NACHHO Annual Meeting | 31 October - 2 November 2018

In October, Incubator Partner and Director of Healthabitat, Paul Torzillo, will present at the Annual Meeting of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in Brisbane. He will discuss the history of Healthabitat’s work with Indigenous communities, and provide an update on contemporary work conducted by the not-for-profit’s Housing for Health methodology.

Climate Change, Housing and Indigenous Health | 13 September 2018

13 September 2018, University of Sydney

Tess Lea and Christen Cornell will give a guest lecture to students in the Climate Change and Public Health program, run by the School of Public Health.

Festival of Urbanism | 6 September 2018

Update on the Housing for Health Research Incubator

Associate Professor Tess Lea will present an update on the Housing for Health Incubator partnership with Healthabitat, at Redfern Community Centre.

See the Festival of Urbanism website for more details.

Housing for Health Incubator

We'd love to hear from you

Get in touch