PhD Candidates



Claire Boulange

What Can Urban Planning do for Promoting Walking and Active Living in Urban Environments? A Complex System Approach

This study is part of the Place, Health and Liveability research program estabilished in partnership with public health and urban planning researchers at the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Department of Health and Melbourne's North West Metropolitan Region (NWMR) Regional Management Forum (RMF).

The NWMR of Melbourne contains some of Australia's highest population growth areas, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and is faced with rapid suburban sprawl. The new estate built on NWMR of Melbourne tend to be lower-density and have poorer access to local emploment opportunities, shops and services and public transport, thereby discouraging walking, when compared with inner city housing.

As there is evidence that rates of participation in physical activity in Australia are declining, this pattern of urban growth is a major concern, as it could lead to increased rate of physical inactivity and thus trigger health problems.

This study seeks to advance the understanding of the complex relationships between the built environment and walking behaviours and aligns with the RMF priorities for enhancing health and wellbeng across the NWMR.

This PhD is supported by a Melbourne International Research Scholarship (MIRS).


Claire holds a Bachelor in Geography from the Universite de Haute Bretagne, France and a Masters degree in Urban Planning from the Institut d'Urbanisme de Grenoble, France. Claire has also completed an intensive course in Journalism at the London School of Journalism. Claire has previously completed an internship at the World Health Organisation, Centre for Health Development in Japan as well as working as a consultant with the Vietnam Green Building Council, Hanoi.



Geoff Browne
PhD Candidate Geoff Browne

How can the use of community indicators program in municipal strategic planning be improved for sustainable development?

Enhancing community health and wellbeing is an important aspect of sustainability, not least because of the need to decouple wellbeing from material consumption. The Community Indicators Victoria (CIV) program makes wellbeing data, indicators and advice available to assist local governments with strategic, evidence-based planning. This research will examine the role that CIV plays in local government strategic planning, in council’s day-to-day work and their perception of the program. It will make recommendations on the form and delivery of CIV and on community indicator programs generally that will improve the way evidence based knowledge is used by government in the development of policy for sustainable community health and wellbeing. Prior to this role Geoff worked with the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability on State of the Environment Reporting. Geoff was also a professional seasonal wildfire fighter with the state environment department from 2006 to 2013.

Geoff has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science from LaTrobe University and a Master of Social Science (Planning & Environment) from RMIT University.




Melanie Lowe
PhD Candidate Melanie Lowe

Integrated planning for healthy communities: Do Victorian state government policies promote it?

There is increasing interest globally in integrated planning for health, in response to concerns about the contribution of the built environment to chronic disease. In Melbourne for example, the population is growing rapidly, with many suburban growth areas experiencing a lack of essential services and infrastructure, poor access between homes, workplaces and shops, and related car dependence with low levels of active transportation. All of these factors negatively affect the health of residents.

Melanie’s study aims to examine the extent of, and barriers and enablers to integrated planning for health across Victorian state government policy sectors. The focus is on the key determinants of health in the North and West Metropolitan Region of Melbourne - employment, housing, transport, education, and health and social infrastructure.

Content analysis of selected state policy documents will be undertaken, along with semi-structured in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the state government.

This research will assist policymakers to create healthy communities through integrated planning.

Melanie has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons) and a Master of Public Health.


Mandy Truong
PhD Candidate Mandy Truong

An examination of the impact of an organisational cultural competency intervention on a community health service

It is widely recognised both within Australia and internationally that consideration of cultural issues in health care is important in meeting the health needs of culturally and linguistically diverse societies. Increasing cultural competency depends on a multidimensional approach that addresses individual, professional, organisational, and systemic competence. Knowledge about organisational best practice related to cultural competence is still emerging and there is a strong need for further research. The aim of this PhD research is to examine the impact of an organisational cultural competence review on a community health service (including its staff and clients). This in-depth case study will use a mixed methods approach. The findings from this research will inform and guide future organisational cultural competence interventions.


Mandy holds a Bachelor of Optometry and a Master of Public Health.