Planners Top Picks for #PIACongress18

Gary White

Chief Planner at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment
Finalist for PIA Planner of the Year 2018

As Chief Planner at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, I am tasked with the not so small task of establishing an improved strategic planning framework across NSW. It is my belief that to achieve this, planning as a profession needs to appreciate the scale and rate of global change that is resulting from disruptive technologies across all employment industries. For this reason, I am personally looking forward to the following talks at the 2018 PIA Congress.

1. Driving future industries and growth through employment and innovation centres
Tim O’Loan, AECOM

2. Global city strategies for adapting to disruptive technology: a view from the inside
Phoebe Hollins and Will Fooks – GTA Consultants

3. When you apply the pub test to planning, do we pass?
Natalie Rayment, Wolter Consulting Group and Yimby QLD

4. What does ‘Drone Disruption’ mean for planning?
Kathryn Doyle, PIA (Assoc.)

5. Integrating intelligent communities and smart city approaches to building a strong community
Cate Hart, City of Prospect

These speakers will undoubtedly provide insightful comments into the future of the planning profession and practice.


Alice Stroemstedt

Urban Designer at Architectus
Finalist for PIA Young Planner of the Year 2018

1. Learning from the Netherlands: creating a framework for architecturally and socially diverse urban renewal
Katherine Sundermann, MGS Architects
I am always interested to hear about international examples of urban renewal to use as case studies, benchmarks and inspiration. It will be great to learn from Katherine’s experience in the Netherlands and how her methods can be applied to my future practice, in Australia and overseas.

2. Bicycle Urbanism by Design
James Thoem – Urban Planner, Copenhagenize Design Co.
Michael Wexler – Urban Designer, Copenhagenize Design Co.

Last year with the introduction of new bike share systems, there has been a significant increase in cyclists in Sydney (including myself), which is great to see. To learn from specialists in one of the most progressive cities for active transport is very exciting and I am curious to hear about innovative ways to make a city more bike friendly.

3. How can urban design create a viable and liveable off-world city? A city on Mars
Cassie Barrow – PIA (Assoc.), Urbis
Designing a city from scratch in space sounds fascinating and has got me imagining how I would best design a great place in space that is vibrant, liveable and sustainable!

4. 2018 YPConnect – Interactive Enterprise Session
This workshop is a fantastic way to kick off the congress. Collaboration is such a key exercise for growing as a young professional and I look forward to networking with fellow Young Planners from Australia and around the world.

3. Complete Streets: Beyond the Plan
Sam George – Sama Design
The concept of complete streets is an important component of creating great places. As an urban designer, I am often identifying roads that could be transformed into streets that prioritise pedestrian and cyclist amenity and safety over vehicular traffic flows. Turning this idea into reality is often difficult, particularly when trying to balance design priorities with the priorities of transport engineers. To hear Sam’s ideas on implementation, first hand, is a really exciting proposition and I hope to take some of these ideas into my own practice.


Brad McCormack

Planning, GIS Analyst & Branding Manager, InfraPlan
Finalist for PIA Young Planner of the Year 2018
Instagram: @bradzinho

1. Creativity and innovation: the essential ingredients in the city of the future
Margie McKay, (MPIA), City of Melbourne
Coming from a design background, I’m always seeking opportunities to bring creative thinking and innovation to planning projects. I’m looking forward to seeing Margie’s presentation and any links it may have to the future role of planners.

2. Keeping Austin Weird: The crossroad between existing culture and a growing city
Chris O’Connor, (MPIA International), Masterplan, Texas USA
I believe in embracing our inner weird, so this presentation on keeping our surroundings weird speaks right to me.

3. Designing the Future Now (keynote speaker)
Dr Leyla Acaroglu – Designer, the Disruptive Design Method
As a planner relatively early in my career, I am genuinely interested in future philosophy and how I might diversify my skills to become the best planner, person and informed citizen that I can.

4. Learning from the Netherlands: creating a framework for architecturally and socially diverse urban renewal
Katherine Sundermann, MGS Architects
Creative design, social diversity and urban renewal – Katherine already has my undivided attention. Her architectural perspective and the Dutch context will add great value to my understanding in these areas.

5. Bicycle Urbanism by Design: Masterclass and Plenary Session
James Thoem – Urban Planner, Copenhagenize Design Co.
Michael Wexler – Urban Designer, Copenhagenize Design Co.

I have been fortunate to work on several active movement plans in my career, referencing Copenhagenize on numerous occasions. I’m looking forward to hearing their experiences in this often contentious area of movement planning and getting involved at the workshop.


Dianne Cowen

Strategic Planner
Finalist for PIA Planner of the Year 2018

1. Strategic planning: why developers should be influential
Sally Lewis (RPIA), Walker Corporation
As a strategic planner, I often face the dilemma of competing interests between developers’ visions and community concerns. I would therefore be very interested in exploring the developers’ perspective on planning for the future.

2. Diversify your Suburb (AKA Pimp my Suburb v2): A participatory urban design workshop to collectively envisage the future of Australian middle-ring suburbs.
Anthony Duckworth-Smith, Australian Urban Design Research Centre/University of Western Australia
Maintaining the balance between achieving dwelling diversity and retaining the existing character and environmental values within an existing Australian suburb is a topic which I am passionate about. Learning mechanisms or undertaking “thinking” exercises to make this transition more successful is of high interest.

3. New frontiers: public participation in planning
Joe Algeri, MPIA, Altus Planning
Keeping up to date on latest and best practices for public participation goes a long way to ensuring that best results are achieved and has the potential to minimise conflict. I am passionate about engaging the public to ensure that planning outcomes are gained that take into account the best information available and would welcome the opportunity to learn more on this topic.

4. Rescoping the opportunity: when community drives investment logic and local strategic planning
Nick Byrne, Remplan
Working in local government, I think this would be an interesting session that is very relevant to the role of a strategic planner.

5. AURIN Workshop
Having had a sneak preview at the extensive data and information accessible through AURIN, this workshop provides insight into what knowledge is available to make the job of planning easier and more highly informed.


Noor Syuhada Shamsul

Senior Planner at Niche Planning Studio
Finalist for PIA Young Planner of the Year 2018
Twitter: @noor_shamsul
Instagram: @noor_syu

1. Families and Apartments – ingredients for success
Samantha Reece, PropertyESP
Amanda Shipton, MPIA, Department of Communities
I grew up on the fourth floor of a 17-storey apartment block. There is so much that is amazing with apartment living (especially for children) that is not appreciated by the wider community. Coming from a different country, I have a different view of what ‘successful’ apartment living is and I’d love to hear how we can make apartment living more accessible and appealing for families in Australia.

2. Global city strategies for adapting to disruptive technology: a view from the inside
Phoebe Hollins and Will Fooks – GTA Consultants
“Disruption”, the on-trend buzzword that is making huge waves in planning in recent years. How can planning proactively respond to an ever-changing world by shaping the built environment!? And do we even need to!? I don’t know so that’s why I’m going.

3. A Little Place, For A Little While: A New Model For Early Delivery Of Community Infrastructure In Greenfields
Bridie Ritchie, Sproat Ventures
Growing a community from scratch takes time (and a lot of tender loving care). Greenfield development gets a bad rap these days with one of the reasons being the lack of community infrastructure. I’ll be all ears when Bridie tells us about new ways we can realistically promote earlier delivery of community infrastructure in a market driven environment.

4. The @insta_city
Tiffany Lacey, San Francisco Shipyard
I’m a big fan of using technology for planning. I love using Instagram and twitter for community engagement. In fact my thesis is about how poorer communities use social media to garner wider support for an alternate urban agenda, so this is right up my alley! Looking forward to hearing about other innovative ways to use social media for planning. #cantwait #yay

5. Gala Dinner
Who doesn’t like dancing the night away…


Giles Graham

Town Planner, SITE Planning + Design
Finalist for PIA Young Planner of the Year 2018
Twitter: @GilesGraham88 @siteplandesign

1. Bicycle Urbanism by Design: Masterclass and Plenary Session
James Thoem – Urban Planner, Copenhagenize Design Co.
Michael Wexler – Urban Designer, Copenhagenize Design Co.

I’m a passionate bicycle-planning-nerd, and after researching how to encourage mode-shift for my thesis I’ve spent a long time trying to apply best-practice ‘lessons learnt’ to Perth. I’m extremely curious to hear what some of the world-leaders have to say on the subject and see if the solutions I’ve reached mirror Copenhagenize’s.

2. Gender and the City: Places for Everyone
Rebecca Egan – PIA (Assoc.), Curtin University
It’s easy to get caught-up in your own experience of a city without even realising that others may have a completely different perception of the same space – especially when it comes to safety. I think this presentation will be a valuable reality-check for those who don’t have to worry about some of these issues personally (myself included).

3. Complete Streets: Beyond the Plan
Sam George – Sama Design
As a bicycle-transit-nerd the issue of street design is close to my heart, and as incredible as Complete Streets appear on paper I’m always surprised how difficult they are to implement. Being able to learn from practical experience gained delivering this infrastructure will surely be incredibly valuable.

4. 2018 YPConnect – Interactive Enterprise Session
I sit on the Young Planners WA committee and I know the work that’s been going into this session – it’s going to be an interesting exercise led by some incredibly innovative and passionate Young Planners.

5. Diversify your Suburb (AKA Pimp my Suburb v2): A participatory urban design workshop to collectively envisage the future of Australian middle-ring suburbs
Anthony Duckworth-Smith – Australian Urban Design Research Centre/University of Western Australia
I had the pleasure of completing this exercise at the PIA WA State Conference last year and I strongly recommend the experience. Being unconstrained by the planning framework and thinking outside the box can produce some extremely exciting and creative solutions to seemingly mundane issues.


Phoebe Harrison

Senior Urbanist (Planning, Engagement)
Ethos Urban
Twitter: @phoebe__h

1. 2018 YPConnect – Interactive Enterprise Session
Last year we launched the first YPConnect interactive session to run on the Wednesday: the Dangerous Ideas Hackathon. This year, I’m very excited to highlight the second YPConnect Interactive Enterprise Session, taking the form of a hands on place-making workshop using community mapping technology to plan and design a suburb. I’m certain this will be an absolute must-not-miss for young planners looking to get the most out of their Congress professional development opportunities. Best of all, your results will be incorporated into a talk in Friday’s program, where you can check in on the outcomes from the workshop.

2. Disruptor and change-maker
Dr Leyla Acaroglu – Designer, the Disruptive Design Method
Dr Leyla Acaroglu isn’t shy about calling industries out on their inadequacies, and I’m sure she won’t hesitate to do this for planners – in fact, I’m hoping she will. The UnSchool’s work, driven by Acaroglu, is really inspiring and I think planners have a lot to learn from systems thinking and different ways of problem solving. I hope people can put aside their default decision-making tactics to engage with what I’m sure will be the stand-out presentation from Congress.

3. Social planner, innovator and community engagement expert
Jo Cannington – PIA (Assoc.), Social Fabric Planning
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jo Cannington over the last few years. She is passionate about engagement, and sharing her knowledge about respectful, constructive and innovative engagement techniques that get to the heart of planning work. I think her session on Tips and tools for undertaking effective community engagement on a shoestring budget will be an excellent foray into engagement for private practice and government planners alike. We all want to get the most from engagement but rarely have the budget to do the type of long-term, in-depth, ethnographic research we’d like to…I’m sure Jo will be able to help many people with her workshop – and you’ll get to witness her engagement skills in full swing!

4. Young planner alert!! Social inclusion and planning researcher
Rebecca Egan – PIA (Assoc.), Curtin University
Do planners perpetuate inequity in space? I’m looking forward to seeing Rebecca Egan’s talk about her Masters dissertation, Zoning Practices and the Gendering of Spaces – A Perth to Vancouver Comparative. Planning practice is a highly aspiration field, yet we don’t often talk about how our own personal experience of space as professionals, may influence built environment outcomes that suit certain people, and alienate others. I particularly look forward to hearing about how we might engage with planning zoning as a tool to mitigate exclusive space creation in our cities.


Thomas Gardiner

Senior Planning Officer | Development Assessment
Rockhampton Regional Council
Finalist for PIA Young Planner of the Year 2018

1. Bicycle Urbanism by Design: Masterclass and Plenary Session
James Thoem – Urban Planner, Copenhagenize Design Co.
Michael Wexler – Urban Designer, Copenhagenize Design Co.

Copenhagen and Bicycle Urbanism – what an exciting mash-up in itself!

2. Open Space Planning in a Regional Context: 8000 square kilometres, 400 Reserves, 220 kilometres of Riverfront, 68 toilet blocks and 2 Development Assessment Planners!
Joel Taggart – (MPIA), Mid Murray Council, SA
The title really paints the picture here, doesn’t it? Working in the regions myself it will be interesting to see how the Mid Murray Council manages their open spaces with limited resources so I’m sure there will be some positive take-home messages for our team in Rockhampton.

3. Designing the Future Now (keynote speaker)
Dr Leyla Acaroglu – Designer, the Disruptive Design Method
Sustainability Provocateur! Looking forward to hearing Leyla talk about how to “positively disrupt the status quo” through her Disruptive Design Method which I think may change my perspective on how to activate and celebrate positive social change.

4. Planning First: Land Use is shaping Adelaide’s Future Light Rail Network
Brad McCormack – (MPIA), Infraplan SA
I’ve read a bit on the AdeLINK business case so am very keen to hear Brad’s perspective on the “electrifying” relationship between land use planning and laying the footprint for Adelaide’s light rail network.

5. Planning Australia’s most liveable regional city
Ryan Hall – (MPIA), City of Karratha
Very keen to hear Ryan talk about Karratha and the broader Pilbara region and how the city has transformed itself from a mining town into a liveable and vibrant cosmopolitan city.


Kareena May

Managing Director + Principal Town Planner at SITE Planning + Design
Twitter: @kareena_may

1. Copenhagenize Bicycle Urbanism Masterclass + Keynote Presentation
James Thoem – Urban Planner, Copenhagenize Design Co.
Michael Wexler – Urban Designer, Copenhagenize Design Co.

Copenhagen boasts incredible active-transit participation rates, as well as the healthiest and happiest populations on the planet….there is so much we can learn for application in everyday life and across our professional work.

2. The Gen F(uture) Concurrent Session
What a stand out session. It would be hard to go wrong with two of WA’s exciting new urban and regional planning graduates, two former PIA Young Planner Directors who now live/work overseas and a joint presentation from WA’s Department of Communities and Property ESP.

3. Designing the Future Now (keynote speaker)
Dr Leyla Acaroglu – Designer, the Disruptive Design Method
Sustainability provocateur and cultural protagonist….need I say more.

4. How can we work today with residents in creating community consensus for change tomorrow….what is the sustainable NIMBY vaccine?
James Best – Co-founder and CEO, FuturePlexus
Because I am on my own personal crusade to convert the NIMBY attitude in my local community and need all the help I can get.

5. The Young Planner Plenary Session
Our next generation and the future leaders of our profession are incredibly capable and dynamic…and always pull together a great Congress session.


Emma de Jager

PIA Executive Officer for WA & SA
Twitter: @e_dejager

1. Diversify your Suburb (AKA Pimp my Suburb v2): A participatory urban design workshop to collectively envisage the future of Australian middle-ring suburbs
Anthony Duckworth-Smith – Australian Urban Design Research Centre/University of Western Australia
This session looks like a unique way of engaging planning professionals in envisaging the transition of Australian suburbs to accommodate greater housing diversity.

2. Designing the Future Now (keynote speaker)
Dr Leyla Acaroglu – Designer, the Disruptive Design Method
Looking forward to hearing from this Sustainability Innovator and leader in the use of disruptive design across sustainability and educational initiatives.

3. Designing for our minds – the new planning frontier
Robina Crook – MPIA, Associate HASSELL
Jason Burton – Alzheimer’s Australia

With our ageing population, this session looks interesting and very relevant. Dementia is predicted to become the leading cause of death in Australia, and one of the leading health and social issues over the coming years. Are our built environments ready to meet the needs for this significant group of the community?

4. Global city strategies for adapting to disruptive technology: a view from the inside
Phoebe Hollins and Will Fooks – GTA Consultants
How we planning (or not) for the emergence of disruptive transport systems?

5. Stepping Out: Heart Foundation HAbD Interactive Walkshop in the Perth CBD
Jo Appleby – Heart Foundation
Tim Greenhill (MPIA) – Urbis
Claire Franklin MPIA (Fellow) – Franklin Planning

This session will provide an opportunity to get some fresh air and stretch the legs. This Walkshop will visit Elizabeth Quay and the newly opened Yagan Square, a celebration of the State’s cultural heritage and entertainment hub which demonstrates Perth’s coming of age as a vibrant and liveable city.