Melissa Bailey believes the way to a vibrant, interactive neighbourhood and society is through good urban design and planning. Pictured here at the old Clipsal factory redevelopment in Bowden, Mel shows me how this area is a good example of urban design. The developers are actively planning the neighbourhood for activity, accessibility and a sense of community – for example the roads and footpaths don’t have gutters and there are trees in the middle of the roads to provide greenery and slow cars down. Together with 6 star green rating apartments there are parks, a town square and a community garden; all connected to the parklands and city with great pedestrian and bike paths. (Mel nor I work for Bowden, if that was starting to sound like a sales pitch!)
Mel’s interest in community, geography, politics and advocacy has seen her career culminate in her current profession as an urban planner. Despite her original interest in marine biology, Mel studied a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Urban Geography at the University of Adelaide. While there, her activist Auntie’s influence saw her undertake some political studies and she joined the University’s Labor Club where she met her future husband, current South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill.
After university, Mel did a character building traineeship with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), worked for the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and then ran Pat Conlon MP’s electoral office. Mel enjoys helping people which is why she found running the electoral office so rewarding. As she was already working for a Minister at the time her husband became a Minister, she decided to move away from politics when her oldest daughter was born. After an inspiring evening at the Planning Institute of Australia awards, she decided to go back to university and study a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.
In 2009, with her background in health, policy and now planning, Mel was well placed for her first job as an urban planner as the Health Planning Officer at the Department of Planning and Local Government.
Currently, Mel is a principal planner with global consulting firm AECOM.