Neighbourhoods, Communities, Housing, and Health

Neighbourhoods, Communities, Housing, and Health is interdisciplinary in approach, crossing boundaries that include urban planning, housing studies, sociology and public health. Led by Associate Professor Kathy Arthurson, our focus is on cities and neighbourhoods and investigating the pathways by which characteristics of particular areas are interrelated with achieving health equity, community resilience and social inclusion.


Key areas of expertise

  • Neighbourhood renewal
  • Community engagement
  • Built environment and health
  • Stigmatised neighbourhoods
  • Climate change and vulnerable communities
  • Housing and health
  • Refugees, housing and health


Current Projects

Reconceptualising urban planning and the built form: Comparative international policies and evidence to reduce health inequities and social exclusion (ARC Future Fellowship).

The research encompasses a body of work linking the areas of sustainable urban renewal, social mix policies, health outcomes of high-density housing, and the social exclusion of public housing residents, and community resilience within the context of international best practices. The linking of housing and the built environment to health highlights the combined effects of urban design, quality housing, access to social networks and services, public housing stigma and socioeconomic marginalisation, and community cohesion on the health and well-being  of neighbourhood residents.

Investigator: A/Prof K Arthurson

Arthurson, K and M Darcy (2015) 'The historical construction of 'the public housing problem' and deconcentration policies, in R. Duffty-Jones and D. Rogers (ed.) Housing in 21st Century Australia, People, Practices and Policies, Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-47243113-4.

Arthurson, K (2014) ‘Social Inclusion and Cohesion’, in Resilient Sustainable Cities, Pearson, L., Newton, P. & Roberts, P. (eds), P. Routledge, London.

Arthurson, K (2013) ‘Neighbourhood Effects and Social Cohesion: Exploring the Evidence in Australian urban Renewal Policies’ in van Ham, M. (ed.) Neighbourhood Effects or Neighbourhood Based Problems? A Policy Context, Springer, pp.251-268.

Arthurson, K. (2013). Mixed tenure communities and the effects on neighbourhood reputation and stigma: Residents experiences from within. Cities. [online].

Arthurson, K (2012) ‘Social Mix, Reputation and Stigma: Exploring Residents Experiences of Neighbourhood Effects’ in Neighbourhood Effects Research: New Perspectives, van Ham, M.; Manley, D.; Bailey, N.; Simpson, C.; and Maclennan, D. (eds), Springer, London, Berlin, pp. 101-119.

The relocation tool kit: a guide for implementing relocation policies that enhance residents’ health and wellbeing and social inclusion (ARC Linkage)

Background: Over the five decades since its construction, the Carlton Public Housing Estate gained a negative reputation in an increasingly gentrified locality; yet, for its many residents, the Estate was their long term home and social nexus. The 11-year, phased plan, to redevelopment the Estate’s three sites (Lygon, Elgin and Keppel Street precincts) into a mixed private and public living space started in 2006 with the aim of: increasing housing capacity; improving safety; and integrating public housing with the wider community. This study collected the opinions and experiences of non-returning and returning residents to the Lygon precinct post redevelopment.

Investigators: A/Prof K Arthurson, A/Prof Anna Ziersch; Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Dr Iris Levin.
Partners: VicHealth, Brotherhood of St Laurence
Briefs: Arthurson, K., Ziersch, A. and Levin, I. (2013)  Findings for Tenants (PDF 213KB) and Findings for Policy Makers (PDF 334KB)

Arthurson, K, Levin, I and A Ziersch (2015) 'What is the meaning of 'social mix'? A case study of implementing social mix policy at Carlton Housing Estate, Melbourne, Australian Geographer [online]

Levin, A, I., Arthurson, K. and Ziersch, A. (2014) Social mix and the role of design: Competing interests in the Carlton Public Housing Estate redevelopment. Cities, 40, pp.23-32.


Climate change and extreme events: Developing a typology of coastal settlement vulnerability to aid adaptation strategies (ARC Discovery)

Background: This project will lead to a an understanding of the multidimensional nature of human vulnerability to extreme weather conditions (i.e. social, human and physical factors); with recommendations for public policies in the areas of emergency services, health, human services, housing and community development. 

Investigators: Professor Scott Baum, A/Prof K Arthurson, Professor Tim Smith

Arthurson, K and Baum F (2015) 'Making space for social inclusion in conceptualising climate change vulnerability' - Local Environment, 20, 1, pp. 1-17, on line version published 16 July 2013.

Baum, S., Arthurson, K., Smith, T., Rickson, K. & C Elrick (2013) Determinants of Household Pro-environmental Practices: An Application of Australian Pilot Survey Data, Paper presented at 25th ENHR Conference, Tarragona, Spain, 19-22 June.


Residents’ voices: advantage, disadvantage, community and place (ARC Linkage)

Background: ‘Neighbourhood Effects’ is the theory that an individual’s behaviour and prospects are influenced by the neighbourhood in which they live; as is reflected by higher crime rates, shorter life spans and higher unemployment in some public housing estates. ‘Poverty deconcentration’ efforts (i.e. redeveloping disadvantaged communities to introduce social mix) are popular policies internationally yet residents in these communities  rarely have the opportunity to be integrally involved in either establishing research questions, which reflect their reality, or developing ways of producing new knowledge. This project gives voice to disadvantage communities in Sydney, Adelaide and Chicago to reduce the gap between theory and reality.

Investigators: A/Professor M Darcy, A/Professor H Cohen, A/Prof K Arthurson, Professor P Nyden, Mr J Campton
Partners: Centre for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago, St Vincent De Paul Society, Tenants Union of NSW Co-operative Ltd

Arthurson, K., Darcy, M. and Rogers, D. (2014). Televised territorial stigma: how social housing tenants experience the fictional media representation of estates in Australia.  Environment and Planning A, 46, pp. 1334-1350.

Rogers, D., Arthurson, K. & Darcy, M. (2014) Disadvantaged citizens as co-researchers in media analysis: action research utilising mobile phone and video diaries, Featured cases SAGE Research methods.


Small strata: the causes of unneighbourly relations, and health and well-being outcomes.

Background: The number of people living in high density forms of housing in Australia is increasing rapidly given the high cost of detached housing, demands for low maintenance housing from an ageing population and recent immigrants including international students and government planning policies of urban densification. This situation has coincided with an increase in neighbour complaints to Local Governments, yet little is known about the issues at the centre of these complaints, fostering neighbourly relations, informal and formal mechanisms to resolve disputes, and the impact of co-operative living for health and wellbeing. This study aims to reduce the gaps in knowledge regarding strata arrangements to inform future policies and conceptualise effective practices for developing neighbourly relations.

Investigators: A/Prof K Arthurson, Dr Iris Levin


Belonging begins at home: Promoting social inclusion and wellbeing for asylum seekers and people from refugee backgrounds    

Background: While housing constitutes the gateway or barrier to education, employment, social integration and other resources for social inclusion Refugees and Asylum seekers experience a range of obstacles to accessing suitable accommodation. Factors include language barriers, limited knowledge of the rental market, lack of suitable referrals, and discrimination. To date there is very little research which has considered the effects of housing (in) security on asylum seekers and refugees; groups of people who experience additional vulnerabilities to the broader population. As such, this project aims to develop an evidence base for policy makers and service providers to form innovative responses to promote health and well-being and social inclusion amongst refugees and asylum seekers entering Australia.

Investigators: A/Prof K Arthurson, A/Prof Anna Ziersch; Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Dr Clemence Due.

Other Selected Publications

Key Staff

A/Prof Kathy Arthurson

Director, ARC Future Fellow


A/Prof Anna Ziersch

Senior Research Fellow, ARC Future Fellow


Dr Iris Levin

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Dr Matt Fisher

Research Fellow

Dr Clemence Due

Research Fellow


PhD Students

BJ Dee-Price

Topic: 'Homes, health and public voices: Housing for young people with severe communication impairment'


PhD and Masters by Research

We offer a dynamic and supportive environment for postgraduate students. For general enquiries please contact the Southgate Institute on