Professor Roz Hansen said she was humbled when she was notified that she would be appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Prof Hansen who moved to Merimbula in 2020 has been recognised for her significant service to urban planning architecture, and to educational, professional, and heritage conservation organisations.
"It's not something you expect. I do what I do because I have a passion for planning," Prof Hansen said.
She has spent more than 40 years as an urban planner predominately through her own consultancy practice with much of her work in strategic planning for local and state governments and in the Asia Pacific, particularly Vietnam in the 1990s.
She was responsible for the new planning and development controls in Hanoi after Prime Minister at the time Paul Keating (and Francophile) called for her assistance in helping to preserve the French heritage of the city as it went through rapid growth which was starting to undermine cultural and heritage values.
As the former chairperson of the Victorian Heritage Council 1988-1994, Prof Hansen broke new ground as the first female and the youngest person to chair the organisation.
"I had to read up really quickly on how to run public meetings," she said.
In 2020 she was appointed to the ACT Heritage Council and said it was "both encouraging and concerning" that we were only just starting to take Aboriginal heritage into consideration.
"We've got a reasonably good track record in built heritage but we're not as good with natural heritage and the Great Barrier Reef is an example of that, in my view," Prof Hansen said.
One of her biggest legacies will be as chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, Melbourne Metropolitan Strategy (Plan Melbourne), 2012-2013 and 2015-2017. She was contemplating retirement in 2011 when Victoria's Liberal government asked her to chair the committee on the city's plan for the future. When the Labor government was returned they asked for a review in 2015, taking into account social and affordable housing and climate change.
"We did a lot of community consultation and tried to reach out to as many groups as possible because people have to be invested in the outcome," Prof Hansen said.
Not surprisingly Prof Hansen's credentials extend into the area of social and affordable housing. She is on the advisory board of Launch Housing, Victoria, a homelessness and support housing organisation and also on the board of Salvation Army Housing Victoria, Salvation Army Housing and Salvos Housing.
"The planning system can assist in supply but it's a question of how far local government is prepared to go and whether local government has the courage to do anything, but it does require state and federal support," Prof Hansen said.
More recently Prof Hansen has turned her expert focus onto Bega Valley Shire Council's draft Affordable Housing Strategy, has made a submission and encourages others to read the draft document and comment.
She says the situation is critical.
"I'm really aware of the problem in the Valley and know people who have been given notice to be out in six weeks because their rental is being sold but there's no supply and nothing that's affordable for them.
"We're seeing we can't even bring in doctors because there's no accommodation for them or critical/key workers."
She believes social housing has to be subsidised by government, rents have to be controlled by government or government must pay part of the rent.
"Build to rent schemes can be very attractive to super funds - and then you bring in a community housing organisation to run it. There's a whole range of policies but you need to get governments across the line," she said.
She believes that council can do something about the situation in the Bega Valley by setting up a housing trust and using its property assets.
"Council owns a lot of sealed asphalt in prime locations, giving opportunities to build over these car parks by by making the 'air rights' available to developers," Prof Hansen said.
"It's not rocket science, you can have your cake and eat it - maintain the car park and have housing. Land costs for a housing development represent about 30 per cent of costs. You can get scale that way and you need scale to make a difference," she said.
Prof Hansen's enthusiasm for her work is obvious with a second edition of a book 'How Great Cities Happen' written in conjunction with two colleagues.
"Unless you've got a passion for what you're doing, change careers," is her advice.
She says this was never an award "I consciously sought but I just wish mum and dad were here to see it".
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