PhD students

The following are PhD students involved with the project. If you are PhD student interested in joining the project, please contact us.

Laura Hodgson resizedLaura Hodgson recently completed 18 months of employment as a member of the Governance Team for the City of Playford, where she had the opportunity to progress from a placement and support role within the team to a Senior Governance Officer. While at the City of Playford, Laura practically applied her Public Policy studies through policy writing, review and implementation. Laura was involved in the review of a number of Corporate Policies and the writing of two new Corporate Polices. Laura was responsible for the review of the team’s internal procedures in response to new policies, legislative practices and process improvement. Laura provided extensive policy, procedural and legislative support and advice within the City of Playford and to the Council Member body.

It was through these experiences working in Local Government that Laura developed and fostered her interest in Public Policy, with a desire to continue this in Government or in a research capacity. Laura has a background in Politics, International Relations & Geography, having completed her BA at UNSW ADFA in 2013, while undertaking training to become an Army Officer. Despite leaving her Army career early, Laura’s studies there triggered an interest in research which led to the completion of Honours at Adelaide University in 2014, with a thesis on Environmental Security in the Philippines: Towards Community-based Ecological Security. Laura has also undertaken post graduate studies with a Graduate Diploma in Public Policy Administration at Flinders University in 2016.


jessica2Jessica Porter is an urban and regional planner with over twelve years experience in the Local Government sector. Jessica’s roles have primarily been in statutory and strategic planning; however, she has also been involved in a wide range of council projects, including community development and Council governance. In addition to these roles, Jessica has been both Secretary and President of the South East Local Government Inspectoral Group (SELGIG) and Secretary of the City of Mount Gambier Heritage Committee.

Jessica obtained a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honours) at the University of South Australia and has also completed post-graduate studies in Social Planning. In addition to this, Jessica has also undertaken and completed further study in Government Management and Business Administration. In 2007, Jessica was awarded the South Australian Young Planner of the Year by the Planning Institute of Australia (SA Division).

Throughout her career, Jessica has gained a strong working-knowledge of urban and regional planning and its relationship with Local Government. In addition to her passion for regional land use planning, Jessica has a keen interest in the social planning field; particularly in demography, service provision, social policy and how the built environment can shape and influence the community.

For the past decade, Jessica has built a life in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia. Jessica is an active member of Soroptimist International (Mount Gambier) and the Planning Institute of Australia.


lenkaLenka Thompson has recently completed a 5 year term as a Local government Councillor at Moreland Council in Melbourne. In her role as councillor she was responsible for the Accessible and Affordable Housing portfolio. She was co-Chair of the Moreland Housing Matters Advisory Group and helped lead the review of the Moreland Affordable Housing Strategy, which was adopted by the council in 2014. In July 2014 she was awarded the Municipal Association of Victoria’s McArthur’s Fellowship of $12,000 to travel to England and research affordable housing models to be implemented in Victorian Local governments. Lenka’s research focused on Community Land Trusts (CLT) and the use of public land for the provision of affordable housing. The research took her to 12 different CLTs across England for field-based assessment and she also conducted interviews with municipal authorities, councillors, financiers and developers. She presented her findings to a number of Victorian councillors, council officers and community housing groups. Lenka currently sits on the YWCA Housing’s Development Committee which aims to provide affordable, secure and safe housing for women at risk. The committee is conducting its first pilot trial into procuring land and developing housing to assist with the provision of affordable housing for future residents.

Lenka’s PhD titled ‘Local government in Australia and it capacity to supply affordable housing’ will examine how local government can utilise their landholdings to increase the supply of affordable housing. The empirical component of the thesis will involve the conducting of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in local government. In her interviews she will be endeavouring to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the historical relationship between local government and affordable housing, and what can be learned from that history through successes and failures?
  2. What are the current programs the council in question has in place to supply affordable housing?
  3. What model can local governments use without the reliance on State or Federal funding to increase the supply of affordable housing stock in their local government areas?
  4. How can local government’s land and property assets assist in defining a new model
  5. How can local governments assist with the development of affordable housing in their municipality in partnership with other not-for-profit organisations?

Besides Moreland Lenka is still deciding what councils to focus on.