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Desert Knowledge CRC partners meet at SCU Coffs Harbour campus


Brigid Veale
24 March 2005
Reducing the enormous cost of providing and maintaining housing and other infrastructure in desert Australia is the aim of a research project being conducted by Southern Cross University researchers at the Coffs Harbour campus.

The Lifecycles Project, led by SCU's Dr Kurt Seemann, is part of the $94 million Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) which aims to promote sustainable living in remote desert environments.

The first major workshop of the Lifecycles Project will be held at the Coffs Harbour campus on Tuesday, March 29, bringing together researchers and partners including the Northern Territory Government and Department of Community Development, Sport and Cultural Affairs.

Dr Seemann said it was estimated that the cost of providing housing and infrastructure across arid Australia would reach $3.5 billion over the next 10 years because of population growth.

"The Lifecycles Project is looking at the life of the built environment, including housing and infrastructure such as roads, energy water and waste services," Dr Seemann said.

"The project aims to extend the life of housing and infrastructure through research and development with the objective to develop innovative intervention strategies."

As part of the project computer models are being developed to gauge the effects of using new technology and new approaches to building and education.

Dr Seemann said PhD candidate Deborah Rockstroh, a graduate of the Bachelor of Technology Education offered at the Coffs Harbour campus, would be looking at the school curriculum in years 7 to 9 in arid Australia. Another PhD candidate at Coffs Harbour, Matthew Parnell, will be working in communities in semi Arid NSW and Central Australia to determine how they can have a voice in the way services are brought to their communities.

"Education and training is not the solution in every case. We need to change the technology, rather than change the people. Innovation and problem solving needs to be emphasised substantially more in the curriculum, but not at the expense of technical training. It's about investing in adaptive capacity".

Caption: This centre at Twampa, two hours west of Alice Springs, is the service headquarters for maintenance of housing and infrastructure in even more isolated communities.

Photo and interview opportunity: Researchers and project partners will be welcomed by SCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark and Pro Vice-Chancellors Professor Zbys Klich and Professor Peter Baverstock from 1pm on Tuesday, March 29, in the Osprey Restaurant.