PHD Candidate (current) // Bachelor of Arts (Honours) // Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) // Diploma of Management
Rachel's work is focused on strengthening the relationship between academic research and design and planning practice and building an evidence base to support decision making in policy development. Her areas of expertise are housing and social policy to support the creation of more equitable cities.
What brought you to working in housing policy?
I originally completed a management degree but returned to university to study sociology. When undertaking international exchange at Northeastern University in Boston, I discovered the specific field of urban sociology which fascinated me. I have always been interested in understanding the boundaries constructed between different groups of people and the way such boundaries can result in inequalities in space - discovering the field of urban sociology really helped focus my attention to cities and housing.
What does an inclusive and equitable city look like to you?
To me, an equitable city is one where everybody has a secure home, where there is a greater equality of incomes, and people feel safe in their urban environment. In an equitable city all people respect each other, women have agency to move about comfortably, and perhaps most importantly, the decision-makers who set policy have lived experiences that inform their actions.
What do you love about Melbourne?
I love the diversity of the city, in terms of both people and places. Each suburb has its own unique character, local charm and style of housing. I also love that you can travel out of the city in any direction for an hour or two and arrive at a beautiful beach, mountain or forest.
Aside from Melbourne, what other cities do you love?
I would love to return to Boston to live for a while. It is such an intriguing and complex city with a rich history and culture in a beautiful setting, but when you scratch the surface there is also immense inequality and injustice.
When you get stuck at work, where do you look for inspiration?
If I'm at home I stop what I am doing and play the piano (poorly!) until my mind is entirely focused on the music. Most of the time this helps if I am stuck with an idea or have writer's block. If I'm at work I go for a wander around the city and people watch, which helps me remember what it is I love about the city and why I'm doing the work that I do.
What do you do when you're not at work?
I like to walk my dog along the river, play Lego with my step-children, read Scottish and Scandinavian crime fiction or go fishing.
Do you have any secret skills?
I happen to be a trained chef and have mean knife sharpening skills!