University of Canberra
CURF Seminar - Housing Affordability - 6 March 2017
Posted 27 February 2017 12:57pm

Watch Seminar here:


Housing Affordability: Are we there yet?
Planning and delivery on affordable housing is at a crisis point in which new ideas and old attitudes collide. Improving outcomes for the community and supporting the renewal of urban areas are major challenges facing every city nationally and internationally.

This Seminar panel brought together government, industry and NGO views to discuss this important issue and we heard from the community about ways in which Canberra can work toward solving this crisis.

Expert panel discussion with Suzanne Orr MLA, Alan Morschel and Travis Gilbert

Suzanne Orr MLA

Suzanne was born in Canberra and grew up in Giralang. While growing up Suzanne's family fostered more than 200 children. The experience made her aware from a young age that government has a big role in helping when people need extra support. She worked in the hospitality and tourism industries. Suzanne completed university as a mature age student and along with her cousins became part of the first generation in her father’s family to be university educated. After completing a master's degree she began a career as an urban planner and also worked for the Australian Public Service.

Suzanne joined the Australian Labor Party in 2013. She organised a successful campaign along with to encourage the ACT Government to divest from fossil fuel companies soon after being involved in the party.

On 26 October 2016, Suzanne was officially elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly as the ACT Labor Member for Yerrabi.

Suzanne is a qualified Urban Planner and is passionate about making cities the best they can be for the people that live in them, while at the same time minimising the impact urban lifestyles have on the environment.

Travis Gilbert
Travis Gilbert is the Executive Officer of ACT Shelter, the peak body for affordable housing in the ACT.

He is a criminologist by trade having completed honours in that discipline in 2006. Prior to this, he studied social work, sociology, politics and public policy. He is currently completing a Diploma in Management and leadership on a very part-time basis at CIT.

His working life has spent mostly in the community services industry - with a brief stint in Government at Housing SA. His first ‘degree related job’ was as a youth worker at a homelessness refuge in Adelaide. He then worked on the Your Rights @ Work campaign at SA Unions before being accepted to Housing SA’s graduate program. He moved to Canberra in 2009 to take a job in policy and research at the since de-funded national homelessness peak before trying something different and moving to mental health policy.

He is passionate about ending homelessness by housing people affordably and has a growing interest in the role urban planning and zoning can play in facilitating this. He believes well located, affordable, accessible housing with security of tenure provides the necessary foundation for social and economic participation and community inclusion. His long-term goal is to work across organisations and sectors to continue to raise the profile of affordable housing in both political discourse and public policy.

Alan Morschel
Alan has worked as an Architect in Canberra since 1972. In that time, he has been employed in both the public and private sectors, and has been self-employed for the past 17 years.

Of the large number of projects that he has been involved in, many have been residential, and many of those have included a range of affordable and social housing.  This residential focus has been supported with periods of employment and engagements with NCDC, ACT Housing, ACT Planning and HIA.  Alan maintains his interest for and knowledge of housing developments and policies as chairman of the Planning Committee at the ACT Chapter of Institute of Architects.

Alan has been aware of the ever-worsening state of housing affordability in Australia for the past 20 years, and will be sharing his thoughts on how Architects and Planners can play a role in alleviating the problems of affordable housing.

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