Conference paper
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Integrated planning across multiple sectors is essential for creating healthy communities, where jobs, shops and services are accessible from homes via walking, cycling or public transport. This paper explores barriers and enablers of health-promoting integrated planning in Melbourne, focussing on horizontal integration across Victorian state government departments and agencies. Content analysis was undertaken of Victorian state government policy documents that shape the health of urban environments. The planning strategy for Portland, Oregon, USA was also analysed, to identify lessons that might be drawn from the City of Portland, which is widely regarded as a leading example of integrated planning. In addition, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior policymakers from the Victorian state government and the City of Portland. Walt and Gilson’s (1994) policy analysis framework was used to assess and categorise barriers and enablers of integrated planning into actor, process, content and context factors. Despite clear aspirations and efforts at health-promoting integrated planning in Victoria, this research suggests that key challenges remain, such as the disconnection between land use planning and infrastructure and service delivery. Recommendations for improving governance arrangements, policy processes and policy content are outlined, to assist in the creation of healthier communities through integrated planning.

The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy. The relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical developments that are presented as part of our scholarly endeavours and policy processes is rarely clear and straightforward. Sometimes, perhaps because of the fortuitous alignment of various factors, our research has a direct and positive impact on policy. Sometimes it takes longer to be noticed and have influence and, sometimes, there is no little or no evidence of impact beyond or even with the academy. And while there are things we can do to promote the existence of our work and to present it in more accessible formats to people we believe to be influential, ultimately the appreciation and application of our work lies in the hands of others.

This paper is one of 164 papers that have each been reviewed and refereed by our peers and revised accordingly. While they each will have been presented briefly at the SOAC conference, they can now be read or re-read at your leisure. We hope they will stimulate further debate and discussion and form a platform for further research.

Adapted from the SOAC 7 conference proceedings introduction by Paul Burton and Heather Shearer

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

SOAC 7 was held in the City of Gold Coast from 9-11 December 2015. The conference featured leading national and local politicians and policy makers who shared their views on some of the current challenges facing cities and how these might be overcome in the future.

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