Where is the Vision? Critically exploring the professional role of the Australian urban planner within a governance framework
Recent debates within the planning literature have highlighted that the professional role of the Australian urban planner is suffering a crisis of identity and vision (Gleeson 2003, March & Low 2007, Moran 2006, Powell 2006). In the face of 21st century sustainability imperatives such as climate change, affordable housing and water management, Australian planners emerge not as professionals at the forefront of change, but as struggling to find relevance and direction within the complexity of the contemporary governance framework. This situation has been exacerbated by institutional restructuring and reforms, diverse regulatory frameworks and increasing levels of bureaucratic minutiae (Hillier 2007). This paper critically reviews the literature related to the role of the Australian urban planner and in particular offers a socio-historical overview of five key shifts that have been identified within the Australian context. The paper concludes by highlighting four areas that warrant further investigation and scholarly attention: 1) the role of urban planners within the private sector; 2) the hybrid nature of urban planners within a governance framework; 3) re-valuing the professional role of the urban planner, particularly within the public sector; and 4) the implications of these shifts for urban planning education and practice.
Proceedings of State of Australian Cities National Conference 2007