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A/Professor Amelia Thorpe

+61 2 9385 7602

Amelia Thorpe is Associate Professor in Law at UNSW, working in the areas of planning, property and local government law, legal geography and urban studies. Her research centres on frameworks for decision-making in contemporary cities – who gets to have a say, and how – and the ways in which those frameworks might contribute to social and environmental justice. Amelia’s approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on degrees in Architecture and City Policy as well as Law, and professional experience in public interest environmental law and in planning and urban development.

Amelia’s current research explores the governance of public streets (particularly infrastructure for electric vehicles, and for walking and cycling); gender and diversity in planning and development (including professional organisations and expert advisory and decision-making bodies); and activism in local government.

In her book, Owning the Street: The Everyday Life of Property (MIT Press, 2020), Amelia examines how local, personal, and material understandings about belonging, ownership, and agency intersect with law to shape the city. Amelia's work is published in Australian and international journals including Journal of Law & Society, Law & Society Review, Social & Legal StudiesPlanning Theory & Practice and Urban Studies and she serves on the editorial boards of Australian Planner and Environmental & Planning Law Journal. Some of Amelia’s publications can be downloaded for free from SSRN: 

Amelia joined UNSW Law in 2012, having worked previously as a director at the Environmental Defender’s Office, Australia’s largest and oldest public interest environmental law organisation. Amelia led the EDO’s legal outreach programs, including indigenous and community engagement in NSW and a capacity-building program for environmental law in the Pacific region, working primarily on climate change at national and international levels.

Before Law Amelia studied Architecture and City Policy, and worked for the planning, transport and housing departments in Western Australia. This included the award-winning TravelSmart and Liveable Neighbourhoods programs, as well as New Metro Rail, then the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the state, and Dialogue with the City, a deliberative planning process involving more than 1,000 people. A particular interest in the policy and regulatory aspects of urban development led her to study law. Amelia completed law degrees at the University of Oxford and at Harvard Law School and, later, a PhD at ANU.

Amelia remains actively involved in the practice of planning, serving as community representative on the City of Sydney Local Planning Panel, co-director of Urbanistas Sydney and co-chair of the PIA NSW Women in Planning Network (which she co-founded in 2020), and a member of the board of Shelter NSW. Amelia has also served on numerous bodies focused on inclusion and diversity at UNSW, including as co-chair of the UNSW Women in Research Network and chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Law.

Amelia has three young children and works part time.