Susan Oakley

Susan Oakley

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

My research expertise is the relationship between urban planning, governance and urban regeneration with a focus on disused docklands in Australia. This research is centred on two inter-related themes; firstly, an investigation of the transfer of 'models' of redevelopment and secondly, the practice of contemporary urban governance and planning orthodoxy to inter-city competitiveness and high density-oriented urbanism. I am also a research member in the Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning.

Another area of my research expertise centres on applied social research with a focus on citizenship and public policy issues around homelessness and housing in Australia. I am involved in youth homelessness research, undertaking work for the Commonwealth Government. This research investigates the areas of the experiences of youth homelessness; ways to better support young homeless people into independent living and better models to assist rural youth homelessness.

I welcome inquiries from Masters and PhD candidates interested in youth homelessness, housing, policy responses to homelessness and housing for young people, urban regeneration, waterfront renewal, and urban planning and urban regeneration.

Current projects include:

  • The experience of being young and LGBTIQ issues and being homeless

The project raised awareness of the need for extra support for young homeless people who are LGBTIQ. Funded by the Commonwealth Government the study found that improved training for teachers, health and social workers, and for improved services and accommodation to cater more specifically for the range of needs for young LGBTIQ people was needed. While youth homelessness is a major problem, the situation is even more complex when young people are LGBTIQ and are facing being homeless.  Coordinated and integrated support services are lacking, so too is enough safe housing to accommodated these young people.

  • The role of private rental brokerage in housing outcomes for vulnerable Australians

This research explores Australian private rental brokerage programs which provide assistance in securing and sustaining private rental tenancies for disadvantaged tenants. Funded by AHURI the study identified a diverse range of activities tailored to individuals and local circumstances, but lacking common terminology, measures and reporting, has made it difficult to assess the overall success of these programs beyond specific program outcomes.

  • ‘I feel like my luck's going to run out soon’: Youth Citizenship and Housing Responses to Homelessness in South Australia

The role that Youth Housing Models (YHMs) play in supporting a young person’s experience of citizenship is complicated. On one hand the YHMs’ provide a crucial support system for young people who can no longer receive ongoing emotional, economic and habitual support from their families. In theory, the YHMs’ support provide a stepping stone to achieving societal goals of citizenship in terms of economic independence. On the other hand, even with the YHMs’ support the young person still faces significant structural barriers of increasing educational requirements, reduction in secure employment and a lack of affordable housing. Even more significant is the recognition and attention to empowering young people to have agency and the relevant skills sets they require to be able to negotiate the world that they live in. This study was funded by the ARC.

  • Redeveloping urban docklands for high-density consumption living

In Australia, large-scale residentially driven waterfront redevelopments have taken on a new urgency and their development has increasingly become politically, socially and economically significant as urban populations have burgeoned and governments have sought ways to house, employ and ensure quality urban environments. My research examines the capacity of these projects to provide planning processes that can deliver equitable distributional outcomes in terms of environmentally and socially sustainable spaces of mixed housing tenure, amenity and quality urban design.

  • Understanding the planning and practice of redeveloping disused docklands

The Port Adelaide inner harbor, like other waterfront developments nationally and internationally, reflects the bringing together of ideas, people, capital and strategies in reconfiguring the built form. This study examines the planning, processes and delivery of this waterfront redevelopment. The aim is to go beyond situating the redevelopment as a ‘model’ of success or failure, or the sole result of a neo-liberal urban regeneration project.


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 - ongoing Professor and Head of School University of Adelaide
    2014 - ongoing Head, The School of Social Sciences University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    Flinders University Australia PhD (Sociology)
    Flinders University Australia Honours Degree of Bachelor of Arts (First Class)
Date Project Investigators Funding Body Amount
2014 - 2015 Role of private rental brokerage in supporting vulnerable Australians Oakley S., Tually S., Faulkner D., Slatter M., & Michell D. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute  (AHURI) $144,000
2012 - 2013 Understanding the experiences of LGBTIQ homelessness in Australia Oakley S FaHCSIA
(Commonwealth Government)
2011 - 2013 Creating better pathways into civic partnerships for young homeless people Oakley S Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (APAI) $91,000
2005 Work Household Community and Services Project Oakley S., & Pocock B. ARC Linkage Grant $180,000
2005 Young casuals and workplace citizenship Oakley S., & Pocock B ARC Linkage Grant $72,000
2004 Experiences and Dimensions of Low Paid Workers in Australia Oakley S., Pocock B., Buchanan J., Campbell I., & Watson I. ARC Linkage Grant $165,000
2003 Developing models of good practice in meeting the needs of young homeless people in rural area

Oakley S., Beer A., Delfabbro P., Natalier K.,& Verity F.

AHURI $52,000


  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Philanthropy and Social Justice: Examining the Social Impact of Grant-Making by Philanthropic Institutions in Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mrs Zurina Simm
    2011 - 2019 Principal Supervisor ‘I feel like my luck's going to run out soon’: Youth Citizenship and Housing Responses to Homelessness in South Australia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Sharyn Leanne Goudie
    2010 - 2016 Co-Supervisor Gentleman squatters, 'self-made' men and soldiers: Masculinities in nineteenth century Australia. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Helen Patricia Ewart
    2008 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Rethinking Masculinities and Young Age: Primary School Students Constructing Gender Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Clare Bartholomaeus
    2007 - 2011 Principal Supervisor Tenuous Guests: Couch Surfing Through Homelessness in the Lives of Australian Youth Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Pauline McLoughlin

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