Panel discussions

Panel discussions

Panel discussion | Genuine community engagement on large infrastructure projects: lessons learnt from road projects in Victoria

Community engagement is a legislated part of major infrastructure projects, including road projects, wind farms and nuclear waste disposal facilities. Government agencies employ community engagement specialists, and spend large sums of money and extensive amounts of time consulting with the community. Why then, are so many projects delayed and ‘held-up’ due to community behaviour?

In this panel, we will hear insights from people from both sides of the debate on one of Victoria’s most controversial recent major highway upgrade projects, the Western Highway duplication. Why did this project cause such community angst and why was the community engagement perceived as neither genuine nor adequate? Join us for this honest and at times personal reflection of mistakes made, lesson learned and positive outcomes for the next stages of the Western Highway and for VicRoads more broadly.



Kelly Parkinson | Director, Future-Eye. The art and science of outrage management – is it all smoke and mirrors or is it really that simple?

Louise Costa-Pelle | Public Land Advocates Network

Helen Lewers | Western Highway Action

Bart Popielcyzk | Senior Project Manager, Western Highway Project, VicRoads

Sharon Edlich | Community Engagement Co-ordinator, Western Highway Project, VicRoads

Panel discussion | How will technology and innovation influence transportation ecology research and practice?

The future of transport is evolving rapidly, bringing with it a myriad of novel changes that we must be cognisant of and be prepared for. When will driverless cars be the norm in Australia? What are the consequences of increased automation? Will driverless vehicles increase or reduce the rate of wildlife-vehicle collisions? What new technology can we use to inform drivers of high-risk areas? How will electric vehicles affect noise and chemical pollution around roads, and what are the flow-on effects for wildlife? Will we need more or fewer roads with more or less capacity into the future? And where should the new roads be built? What new or different modes of transport will become the norm over the next decades? Are the mitigation strategies of today going to be effective in the future? What horizon-issues should we be thinking about now, to ensure we are prepared for the future? These and other important questions will be discussed as part of an interactive panel.

Each panellist will briefly present the key issues within their area of expertise, followed by a facilitated and interactive Q&A and discussion.


Stuart Ballingall is the Director Transport Futures at VicRoads, where he plays a lead role preparing for the deployment of emerging transport technologies. Stuart also has a lead role nationally as the program director of the Connected & Automated Vehicles program at Austroads. Other roles currently held include with the board of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), and the National Positioning Infrastructure Advisory Board. Stuart has significant experience leading technical programs that span across the transport, automotive, and ICT industries. Previous senior roles held by Stuart include with General Motors Holden and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV). Stuart is also an active member on numerous government and industry forums, both at the national and international level.

Casey Visintin is trained as both an architect and wildlife conservationist and his research explores impacts of the built environment on ecological systems. He develops quantitative models to perform risk assessment, support environmental decision making, and guide behaviour change. His work draws from several areas of expertise including species distribution modelling, transportation modelling, risk theory, data science, wildlife management and conservation planning.

Rob Appleby is a director of a wildlife monitoring and management technology company, Wild Spy Pty Ltd, that specialises in developing innovative, technological solutions to wildlife conservation challenges. He is also currently completing a PhD in animal behaviour, with a thesis topic centring on human-dingo interaction dynamics on Fraser Island and its implications in relation to dingo conservation.

Marcel Huijser is a lead researcher in road ecology at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, USA, where he leads a range of road and wildlife related projects for state and federal governments, counties, foundations, and other funders. Marcel is recognised internationally for his work on the development and testing of animal detection systems that alert drivers to the presence of large mammals along highways, having conducted trials in Yellowstone National Park, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Pennsylvania.