Friday, 6 October, 2017


Does assessing the viability of economic development options for a region in transition appeal to you? Are you looking for a personal transition – from the bowels of a bureaucracy to the leading edge of insight and application? A change in lifestyle, as well?

We need someone to support the Muswellbrook Shire Council’s program of economic diversification and jobs generation. At the same time, you will advance the research program of the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre, an institution with a 60-year history of social, economic, and environmental research in the Hunter Valley.

The HRF Centre aims to develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of regions going through significant economic transitions by employing a research model that is strongly engaged with key stakeholders in government, industry and the community. In that quest, the Upper Hunter region – with its coal mining, power generation, agricultural and equine industries – is a key case study.

The individual selected for this position will be working alongside staff in Muswellbrook Shire Council, either placed in Muswellbrook or spending on average 2-3 days per week in the town. The position is also engaged with the HRF Centre at the University of Newcastle on the 8th floor of its inspiring NeW Space facility in the Newcastle CBD. We have stunning views of the harbour and out to the ocean as well as easy access to key players in business and government.

Working closely with the HRF Centre’s director and lead economist, as well as with staff and stakeholders in Muswellbrook Shire, you will undertake research and analysis to inform investment and economic development opportunities in the Upper Hunter region. For example, what are the costs and benefits of developing Muswellbrook into a bio-energy hub or for intensive agriculture on buffer land around the coal mines?

You will be involved in pursuit of funding for research and development applicable to the region. You will help to identify and publicise findings among key stakeholders in the region as well as to academic audiences for application in other regions. These engagement tasks will require building on the HRF Centre’s current relationships in the region as well as in government and industry, more generally. It will also incorporate collaboration with other applied research efforts around the university. In sum, the role includes desktop research, interviews and analysis as well as presentations and other forms of reporting.

We seek someone with experience tracking social and economic indicators and conducting cost-benefit analyses in a range of sectors. You will need an understanding of economic modelling strategies that are potentially applicable at regional and town levels and a familiarity with aspects of complex system behaviours as applied to the socioeconomic aspects of towns and regions. You should also have a keen interest in playing a role in applied research developing new interdisciplinary methods for measuring and forecasting.

The position is funded initially for one year. Funding for subsequent years is currently being pursued.The position will start as soon as you are ready, with November being ideal.

You will need a postgraduate qualification in applied economics or a related field, or equivalent experience in industry and/or government, plus a strong desire to make a difference.