Space and place matter




Innovative policy responses are needed to address the many challenges facing Australia, requiring a better understanding of the differential impacts of economic, social and environmental change on both people and places. Space and place do matter. Where people live certainly can affect their well-being and life chances.

Public policy is about developing and implementing programs that are people-centric or place-specific, or both. An on-going challenge for social scientists is to make their research contribute to the public policy process – its evidence-based formation, design features and implementation.

A spatially integrated social science (SISS) approach provides new insights into many of the contemporary challenges confronting our society. Researchers have developed new analytical methods and modelling tools, including sophisticated geographic information systems that interface with statistical models and visual representations to enhance results, interpretations and conclusions.

Since its formation in late 2004, the ARC Research Network in Spatially Integrated Social Science (ARCRNSISS), has facilitated interaction among social scientists drawn from many disciplines. Their collaborations have advanced a spatially integrated approach to social science research in Australia and encouraged skills development in socio-spatial analysis among researchers and their students.

The ASSA Symposium 2009 will show-case how ARCRNSISS researchers are using SISS methods to address contemporary issues of national public policy. A range of SISS research will be presented, including:

  • Issues of social inclusion and disadvantage (particularly affecting youth and older people)
  • Employment vulnerability
  • Planning our big cities
  • Managing the rural heartlands.

The Symposium will feature panel discussions and debate from the floor on these issues of public policy concern, with contributions from senior officials involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy.

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