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From social work to Planning Policy

  • Date: 31.03.2017
  • Type: Featured Article
  • Author: Department of Planning and Environment

How does someone move from social work to planning policy?

Deborah Brill is the Department’s Director of Housing and Infrastructure Policy and started her career as a social worker.

deb-brill_430x278 Caption: Director of Housing and Infrastructure Policy Deborah Brill moved from social work into policy.

“I worked for about 10 years in a hospital and then with the Public Guardian’s Office in Western Australia,” Deborah said.

“Social work made me think about how you influence things more broadly and not just person by person – the things you can do to change the way systems and policies work so people aren’t at risk.”

This triggered her decision to move into policy roles focusing on drugs, Aboriginal issues, housing and planning.

“A highlight has been my work protecting vulnerable people and improving their lives,” she said. “Before I left FACS I delivered the Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW policy.”

Deborah’s social work background brings a human focus to the Department.

“I tend to start with people and I see planning legislation as the tools we use to deliver outcomes for people.

“My experience allows me to think about what people need now and what they will need in the future and how planning can deliver this.”

Currently working on the Review of the Housing State Environmental Planning Policy, Deborah said her team focuses on the needs of NSW’s population.

“For our ageing population, we think of ways to promote better housing options that meet the needs of a variety of ages over time.

aging-edm_430x278 Caption: Our ageing population requires planners to think about the long term needs of NSW.

“New housing can be in place for 40 plus years so we need to make sure we’ve got the right sort of housing.

“We need to consider that the housing of today will be used by a number of different people over the life of the building.

“The fun part of policy work is working out what the future could be and seeing what evidence there is to inform this.”

housing-supply-thumbnail-430x278 Caption: A diversity of housing options are needed as the state’s population changes.

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