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Planning graduate helps shape Moreton Bay region

13 Mar 2020

A prized job as an environmental planner is enabling a 2019 USC Urban Design and Town Planning Honours graduate to support the future sustainability of the Moreton Bay region.

Wurtulla resident Jodie Wilson, who started her full-time position with Moreton Bay Regional Council last March, is excited by the prospects of the new decade, including the anticipated expansion of USC Moreton Bay.

“I love being an environmental planner for local government,” said Ms Wilson, who is based at the council’s Caboolture centre.

“My role involves assessing development applications to ensure they comply with environmental performance criteria. It’s satisfying to help landowners produce environmentally sustainable outcomes that are also within the community’s interest.”

Ms Wilson, 39, has participated in the council’s advisory committee on state koala legislation, reviewed environmental elements of the council’s planning scheme, and presented the findings of her USC Honours research to council staff.

“My research applied systems theory modelling to heatwaves, which have terrible impacts on Australian people, animals, the environment and infrastructure,” she said.

“I gained insights from an urban planning perspective and listed measures that could reduce ‘urban heat island effects’, ranging from increased shade seating and green roofs to the use of heat-reflective surfaces and urban bio-climate modelling.”

She said the new USC campus at Petrie would be a fantastic contribution to Moreton Bay.

“It will provide greater access to education for students in the region. With less commuting time, students will be able to concentrate on their studies and improve work-life balance,” she said.

“USC graduates and researchers in the region also will contribute innovation and skills to local business and industry, which will drive thriving and sustainable communities.” 

Ms Wilson said she was delighted to be in a career that she first envisaged growing up in Wagga Wagga, before leaving school early to become a hairdresser.

After studying horticulture at TAFE and working in landscaping, nurseries and bush regeneration, she started a degree at USC Sunshine Coast in 2008, left to raise a family interstate, then returned to the Coast and USC in 2014.

“In 2015 and 2016, I was employed as a university student in Moreton Bay Regional Council’s environmental services division at Caboolture,” she said.

“In 2018, 10 years after my university journey began, I felt a real sense of achievement to complete my degree with First Class Honours and a major in sustainability.”

Last year, she was awarded a 2019 Planning Institute of Australia prize for best fourth-year student in her USC degree, presented by the Queensland Planning Minister.

“Highlights of my studies included working with the Great Sandy Biosphere on governance and helping supply solar lighting to tent communities in India,” she said.

“The greatest skills I gained at USC were critical thinking and inclusiveness. I enjoyed understanding demographic trends, cultural geography and heritage, sense of place, social research techniques and – to my surprise – Australian politics. There is much more to town planning than architecture and engineering.”

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