NAIDOC 2019 Urban Beat

To celebrate NAIDOC Week (7-14 July), CAUL Hub worked together with guest editor Timmah Ball to produce a special NAIDOC edition of our Hub newsletter Urban Beat.

Timmah Ball is a writer, urban planner and occasional artist. She combines these skills to discuss important issues facing cities and how we can learn from First Nations’ cultural perspectives to create resilient futures. In 2017 she performed Last stone Left as part of Yirramboi Festival with dancer and choreographer Raina Peterson. It was performed in front of one of the last remaining precolonial rock faces in Melbourne’s CBD in Sargood Lane. You can read more about this unique aspect of Melbourne and other important stories in the Urban Beat.

In this edition, Timmah reflects on the hidden cultural and environmental layers of cities beneath the built environment and talks to artists, researchers and architects to learn how leading Aboriginal creatives from across the country are creating change and sharing truths in exciting projects. Through interviews, poetry and articles, contributors discuss issues of Sovereignty and steps we will need to take as Treaty discussions begin. Engage with Josh Muir’s self portraits and Jeanine Leane’s poetry, hear from architect Kevin O’Brien and co-chair of CAUL Hub’s Indigenous Advisory Group Maddison Miller, and enjoy interviews with researcher Zena Cumpston, artistic director Eva Grace Mullaley and writer/radio presenter Angelina Hurley.

The Urban Beat also provides an update on two major CAUL Hub outputs which are creating pathways for change: The Living Pavilion and 3 Category Workbook. These projects demonstrate both the importance and strength of collaborative research and Indigenous knowledge systems. Download the 2019 NAIDOC Urban Beat here.

The edition becomes a vital companion to this years National NAIDOC themes – Voice, Treaty, Truth. 

Download the newsletter here.

Featured image: A section of Josh Muir’s banner artwork, featured in the 2019 NAIDOC Urban Beat. 


New report: local actions to conserve urban biodiversity

A new CAUL Hub report shows how Australian cities are implementing novel solutions to conserve urban biodiversity – from reusing hollow trees that would otherwise be lost, to creating local flora and fauna field guides for residents.

This national inventory of local actions is the first of its kind in Australia. The two-part report summarises common barriers and enablers of urban biodiversity conservation, outlines opportunities and challenges for undertaking future action, documents the extent to which Indigenous perspectives are currently considered in urban biodiversity conservation and provides recommendations for future Indigenous engagement.

Check out a summary here or download Part I and Part II (written by Indigilab) of the full report.

Featured image: A fairy tern with chick. Credit: Claire Greenwell

Positions Vacant

Two exciting new opportunities have opened up at CAUL Hub. See below for more details and instructions on how to apply.

Knowledge Broker

Part Time, Fixed Term
Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne
Location: Parkville, Melbourne
Applications close:AUS Eastern Standard Time

The Knowledge Broker is responsible for the conduct of the Knowledge Brokering and Knowledge Translation activities of CAUL, and is the primary liaison between CAUL and the funding agency (the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy). The Knowledge Broker also has a significant role in implementing CAUL’s Indigenous Engagement and Participation Strategy.

About you

You have:

  • A relevant postgraduate qualification and extensive relevant experience, or an equivalent combination of relevant experience and/or training
  • Demonstrated experience in and understanding of fields of environmental science, urban systems and/or Indigenous engagement and participation
  • Extensive experience in the communication of research to policy-makers and the general public
  • High level organisational and time-management skills, and the demonstrated ability to manage and respond to changing priorities and deadlines
  • Close familiarity with the processes of policy formation and implementation
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both written and oral, with a demonstrated ability to convey information to and build rapport with all levels of staff within a diverse work environment
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently with minimal direction and also as a team player
  • Demonstrated concern for work quality and standards

You may also have:

  • Familiarity with or (preferably) experience in the conduct of applied research
  • Willingness to undertake interstate travel

More information: 

Communications Officer

Part Time, Fixed Term
Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne
Location: Parkville, Melbourne
Applications close:AUS Eastern Standard Time

The Communications Officer leads and develops the CAUL Hub communications strategy and is responsible for communicating CAUL Hub research and outcomes to the Department of the Environment and Energy, other stakeholders, and the general public. The Communications Officer also coordinates internal communications (such as internal emails and mailing lists) and external communications (including the CAUL Hub newsletter Urban Beat, social media, and other communications products).

About you

You will have:

  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Experience using Adobe software (including Photoshop and InDesign) and Microsoft Office software (particularly Word and PowerPoint).
  • Experience with web editing, including basic familiarity with command-line interfaces and HTML.
  • Experience with social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Experience with generating media.
  • Knowledge of or interest in science communication, preferably in the environmental and/or atmospheric sciences.
  • Experience in developing communication strategies for science impact.

You may also have:

  • Research experience in the environmental and/or atmospheric sciences.
  • Knowledge of or interest in Indigenous Australian issues.
  • Event management experience.

More information:

Investigating informal greenspaces and their benefits for residents

A new publication by CAUL Hub researchers has used systematic observations and interviews with local residents to examine how residents engage with and benefit from the presence of informal greenspaces in their neighbourhood.

While many studies have shown the numerous benefits of greenspaces, these studies have mainly focused on formal spaces such as parks. Informal greenspaces are particularly common in cities, including areas such as vacant lots, brownfields, and railway or waterway verges. This paper drew on an empirical study of Upper Stony Creek – a concreted drainage channel in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine North. An informal greenspace of around 40,000 square metres is located towards the east of the Creek.

The findings showed that dog walking was the main activity conducted in the informal greenspace, and the lack of regular maintenance, perceptions of unsafety and littering were among the most critical concerns regarding its use. The paper also included recommendations for ways informal greenspaces can be managed and improved to add value to urban environments and fully capitalise on their potential as integral parts of liveable neighbourhoods.

You can read more about the Upper Stony Creek Transformation project in this brochure.

Featured image: Upper Stony Creek Transformation. Credit: Leila Farahani

Why heat waves produce pollution

With extreme heat events becoming more and more common during Australian summers, there has been much national and international attention on the effect of heat waves on health. Heat waves are associated with increased illness and death, as well as increased ozone pollution which can trigger a range of breathing problems. However, there are still many large gaps in knowledge. Why do heat waves cause pollution? And given they are so dangerous to our health, what can we do about it?

By conducting a range of air quality measurement and modelling campaigns in the Sydney region, our research has explained the causes of extra air pollution – stemming from stressed vegetation and the speeding up of chemical reactions in the atmosphere. At the moment, air quality warnings are mainly issued at times of fires. However, our research shows the need to broaden these warnings, to allow for people with respiratory difficulties to take preventative measures. When policy makers and agencies such as the NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) adopt this knowledge, it will help to better prepare our communities from adverse health effects during heat waves.

During the air quality measurement campaign in Wollongong (2012-2013), Sydney recorded some of its highest temperatures ever, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. These high temperatures were associated with high ozone pollution in the area, and by using an air quality model we were able to understand why. This required us to first check that the model could simulate high ozone events, and then turn off some of the model processes to test which process was responsible for the high levels of pollution.

Our analysis showed two factors to be equally responsible for the high levels of ozone pollution: extreme emissions of various compounds (biogenic volatile organic compounds, or VOCs) from plants, caused by the extreme heat, and changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, also caused by the extreme heat. Given that there was no industrial pollution involved in these events, there is little we can do to reduce the problem. We can however, include air quality warnings along with heat stress alerts to reduce the serious health implications of such days in future.

In order to get a comprehensive understanding of extreme heat events in the Sydney region, our research incorporated a combination of air quality measurements and modelling: routine measurements made by the OEH and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA); a detailed measurement campaign involving researchers from CSIRO, the University of Wollongong and other partner universities; and modelling from CAUL Hub researchers at the University of Melbourne. This collaboration was critical, as it meant data was easily attainable and ensured results were reliable.

Featured image: Steven Utembe’s paper, Hot Summers: Effect of Extreme Temperatures on Ozone in Sydney, Australia on the cover of Atmosphere