Our research affiliates are leaders in their respective fields and complement the skills of our research team to deliver high-quality projects.

  • Mary Cocurullo


    Mary-Cocurullo headshot

    Mary Cocurullo has over 15 years combined experience in a research, communications and project management capacity across the private and public sectors in Australia, Japan and Italy. Her expertise extends across social planning to public policy development and analysis, social, strategic planning and crime prevention through urban design.

    Most recently, Mary was Associate Director for the Social Policy and Social Planning team of a leading Sydney based multi-disciplinary consulting firm. She successfully developed and provided advice and project management solutions to government and private sector clients across a range of projects from social infrastructure audits and social impact feasibility studies for public housing and commercial developments, through to policy reviews and evaluations in health, welfare, housing, aged care and the environment.

    Mary is passionate about social inclusion, social justice and grassroots level community development. She has experience working with diverse communities, including time working for local government in Japan, and has successfully developed and delivered a range of community and stakeholder engagement approaches to inform social policy reform, land-use planning and commercial development projects.

    Mary holds a Masters degree in Social Development (Community Development) from the University of NSW, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese and Communications. She has spent a number of years more recently operating a successful small business in the hospitality and tourism sector, while providing consulting services in social policy.


    • Impact of COVID-19 on the Hunter Region’s Arts and Culture Sector, Creative Newcastle
    • Regional NSW Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS) Program Evaluation, NSW Dept. of Planning, Industry & Environment
    • Reporting in the Implementation of LSPS Actions by Councils to inform GSRP and DPs Review and Update, Greater Sydney Commission 
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  • Professor Will Rifkin

    Emeritus Professor


    Emeritus Professor Will Rifkin held the position of Chair in Applied Regional Economics at the University of Newcastle until December 2019. He previously was the HRF Centre Director for three years from May 2017.

    Professor Rifkin previously led a $5-million portfolio of industry-funded social science research that led to creation of the UQ Boomtown Indicators. Generating a small set of indicators of change at the town-level has illustrated the flow on effects across communities from the upturns and downturns in mining and other natural resource development.

    Professor Rifkin is an engineer-turned-social scientist. He worked on hybrid cars twenty years before they came to market. He has degrees from MIT in physics, the University of California-Berkeley in energy and resources, and Stanford University in sociotechnical studies. He has had academic appointments at the University of Queensland, University of Sydney, UNSW, University of Wollongong, and George Mason University.

    His areas of focus are communication and decision-making among experts and relative non-experts – engineers, scientists, medical specialists, lawyers, teachers, politicians, landholders, local residents, pub patrons, etc. 

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  • Andy Sammut


    Andy-Sammut web

    Andy Sammut is an experienced Local Government professional with 32 years’ in the industry and a strong track record in quality service delivery and continuous improvement. For 27 of these years he held management roles in a large metropolitan Council in New South Wales; 16 of which were in senior management and executive roles. Andy has led Corporate and Community Services through significant organisational reform and development. As Director of Corporate Services at Canterbury City Council he had primary responsibility for delivery of Council’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Program while playing a pivotal role in instigating corporate business improvement processes across a broad ranging portfolio. He supported and directed the delivery of programs and service reviews both within this portfolio and across other Divisions that provided city-wide assets, land-use planning, works, waste and environmental programs. 

    Andy has specialised skills in management development and community engagement; with qualifications and experience in working to promote organisational effectiveness and efficiency. His background in social planning, service delivery, community engagement and financial management reflect a strong commitment to working with people to ensure good communication and deliver realistic, financially sustainable outcomes for stakeholders.

    Since leaving local government in 2016, Andy has worked as a consultant in the industry and as an Associate at both the University of Technology Sydney and Newcastle University. He has lead and supported a range of landmark projects, designing and implementing organisational change in regional, rural and city-based Councils.


    • Leadership, Management Development and Coaching
    • Organisational Change, Change Management and Strategic Planning
    • Corporate and Social Planning
    • Asset management, utilisation and planning
    • Integrated Planning and Reporting
    • Policy Development, Review and Consultation.
    • Community Engagement and Stakeholder Partnerships
    • Budget and Service Delivery Planning and Implementation
    • Process Improvement and Service Delivery Reviews
    • Stakeholder engagement in Organisational Restructures
    • Project Management and Risk Management
    • Communication and Decision-making
    • Program Evaluation and Performance Management


    • Bachelor of Social Work with First Class Honours
    • Diploma in Frontline Management
    Andy-Sammut web
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  • Dr Trevor Seymour-Jones

    Conjoint Senior Lecturer and Affiliate


    Dr Trevor Seymour-Jones has forty years of experience in the management of built assets in both the public and private sectors across the Asia Pacific region. He contributes to the Local Government advisory capacity at the HRF Centre.

    Trevor frames strategic management of built assets as organisational resources that are essential to the provision of public services and functioning of government. He advises widely on capacity and capability building for Integrated Planning and Reporting (IPR) Frameworks. He also conducts independent assessments for metropolitan and country councils. He has assisted state government departments and agencies to assess their asset management capacity and capability, and to prepare strategic asset plans as part of the service provision process.

    He leads training and professional development programs for increasing awareness and understanding of the asset management process; structuring asset management as a central and departmental strategic function; and aligning asset planning with service and financial planning.

    Trevor served as a member of a Western Australia Government panel of advisers to assess the asset and associated financial management capacity and capability of councils under the National Assessment Framework. Trevor has provided policy advice to the Governments of New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. Internationally, Trevor has been involved with the management of the built environment across the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Trevor holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Land Economy and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. His PhD from the University of Sydney characterised leading practices in the management of government real property. He is the author of a number of papers, articles and reports and speaks regularly at conferences.

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  • Dr Judy Stubbs



    Dr Judy Stubbs is the Principal of Judith Stubbs & Associates and has over 30 years of experience in housing planning and policy development, social and economic impact assessment, strategic planning, evaluation, community engagement and the arts.

    She is an internationally acknowledged expert in research, consultation, planning and development of innovative affordable housing solutions in diverse housing markets and jurisdictions, and has undertaken successful projects for a wide range of local and state government bodies, private and community sector clients and PPP consortia. Working from a strong academic and evidence base, she specialises in developing and implementing practical, feasible strategies tailored to specific market and regulatory contexts.

    Dr Stubbs regularly provides expert evidence on the social and economic impacts of diverse development proposals in Australian jurisdictions, including the NSW Land and Environment Court, NSW Supreme Court and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

    Dr Stubbs holds an inter-disciplinary PhD in housing policy, land economics and planning law from RMIT Melbourne (Faculty of the Constructed Environment). She currently holds, or has held a number of honorary positions, including Chairperson of the Illawarra Legal Centre, Board Member of the Property Council of Australia (NSW), Senior Research Fellow at City Futures UNSW, Independent Chair of the NSW Department of Housing Customer Advisory Council, and Board Member of several Federal regional economic development boards under different governments. She is a Full Member of the Planning Institute of Australia.

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  • Su Fei Tan


    Su Fei Tan has more than 10 years' experience of research and capacity building for local government. Her areas of interest and expertise include local democracy and representation, environmental sustainability, strategic planning, and supporting local government in developing countries. These are complemented by a wide range of skills and experience in project management, editing and research.

    With extensive experience in research on issues of inequity, environmental sustainability and democratic representation, Su Fei has carried out work to understand community understanding of sustainability and natural resource management and worked with community based organisations to identify strategies achieve identified objectives with regard to sustainability. 

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