CatalystWest 2019
Thursday, 7 November 2019

The Western Sydney City Deal promises to create a city of over 250,000 people on the edge of Sydney, one of the world’s leading economic and cultural hubs.

The moment is upon us. We have a generational opportunity to shape our city from the ground up. We can create an urban environment that is more than built form, more than infrastructure, much more than simply a place of business. Together, Western Sydney can bring to life a city that doesn’t simply reflect our region but encapsulates its wildest possibilities.

That begins at CatalystWest 2019.

Now in its second year, Western Sydney University’s CatalystWest forum will see 350 collaborators from the community, government and industry come together at Parramatta Square to envisage the region’s newest city at the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.

Join us at this highly interactive, purposeful and transformative forum where Australia’s fastest growing region makes its own future.

What We’ll Do, Together

Together from pre to post event, and at the forum itself, we will transform the way cities are conceived. With provocative, agile and interactive speakers, we’ll confront what’s possible when we shape a city collaboratively. Local and international experts will share their visions of cities. We will collectively create a model of a city that is truly ‘liveable’; a city that is inclusive of women, ethnic communities, diverse viewpoints and different understandings of what the intersection of built-form and imagination makes possible.

Lively panel sessions will be augmented by breakout digital hacks and ideation. Participants will be able to populate VR and real-time AV renderings of cityscapes prior to and at the event. 

And the work doesn’t end after 7 November. Western’s researchers will shape CatalystWest’s outcomes into policy statements that we will collectively take to policy makers. This is not a talk fest. CatalystWest is building a city over here. Come and join us!


Jan Fran

Nicole Kalms

Peter Poulet

Shanthi Robertson


Jan Fran is a journalist and TV presenter.

She is best known for her work on The Feed on SBSVICELAND, Medicine or Myth on SBS, The Project on Network Ten and the podcasts, Sexism and the City and The Few Who Do.

Jan is the creator, writer and presenter of the opinion segment The Frant and her videos get millions of views online.

She has shot and produced documentaries from all over the world for TV networks and brands and has appeared as a commentator on Q&A, ABC Breakfast, Studio 10, Paul Murray Live, The Latest, The Today Show, Insiders, The Drum and Triple J’s Hack.

Jan is an ambassador for Plan International Australia where she advocates for women and girls and her strong reporting on women’s issues earned her a 2018 Walkley nomination for Women’s Leadership in Media.

Nicole Kalms is an Associate Professor in the Department of Design and founding director of the XYX Lab which leads national research into gender and place.

In this role, Kalms leads many significant research projects including Urban Exposure: Interactively Mapping the Systems of Sexual Violence in Cities and Women and Girls Only: Understanding the Spaces of Sexual Harassment in Public Transport.

These projects are in partnerships with state, national and international stakeholders across cities as diverse as Sydney, Melbourne, Lima, Kampala, Madrid, and Dehli. Nicole is the author of the monograph “Hypersexual City: The Provocation of Soft-Core Urbanism” (Routledge 2017).

Peter Poulet is the Central District Commissioner with the Greater Sydney Commission. He has over 30 years’ experience in both private and government architectural offices.

Peter was the inaugural State Architect of Tasmania 2009-2012, the 23rd NSW Government Architect 2012-2018 which saw him lead the GANSW team in providing independent, impartial whole of government perspective and advice on the built environment to achieve optimal architectural, urban design and environmental outcomes.

 Peter has recently joined Western Sydney University as Professor of Practice in Architecture, where he aims to bring resilient quality outcomes to the natural and built environments of metropolitan Sydney and in particular, Western Sydney.

Shanthi Robertson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. Her research centres on contemporary migration, youth mobility and urban space.

She has completed an Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship on Asian temporary migration to Australia and is currently Chief Investigator an ARC Discovery Project on the economic, social and civic outcomes of transnational youth mobility for work, leisure and study.

Recent publications appear in International Migration, Geoforum, Current Sociology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Journal of Youth Studies.

A proud westie, Andrew recently graduated from WSU with a degree in International Business.

During his studies, Andrew has completed 7 global experiences which took the form of internships, conferences, study tours and exchanges in China, Vietnam, India and Thailand. This included working with Austrade and being appointed an NCP Alumni Ambassador by DFAT and Asialink Business.

Andrew most recently returned from London as a NAB scholarship recipient with the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue exploring urban regeneration and strategy.

He was awarded the Collegiate Award in 2017 by The Academy for representing WSU’s ideals in academic, community engagement and leadership.

As Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Andy drives Western Sydney University’s strategic collaborations with government, industry and the community. He is co-founder of the ‘LaunchPad’ startup incubator, founder of the CatalystWest forum, and Deputy Chair of Western Sydney Community Forum.

Andy writes regular columns for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Review, and the Saturday Paper on politics and social issues. He features on ABC radio’s political forum, and is an occasional panelist on The Drum.

Prior to his current role, Andy was a researcher in the social services sector and professional musician with ARIA nominated band Crow

Dr. Michelle Catanzaro is a Senior Lecturer in Design, within the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and a Research Fellow at the Young and Resilient Research Centre (Y&RRC).

Michelle takes a transdisciplinary approach to research, combining visual communication, creative methodologies and cultural geography. Drawing on her practical industry experience, her work is outcome driven, with a focus on creating innovative approaches to engage and connect with young people, industry and the broader community.

Michelle co-leads the Places and Platform stream within the Y&RRC where she explores questions surrounding place and identity utilising participatory, digital and visual methods.

Katrina Sandbach is the Director of Academic Program (Design) in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University. A visual communication designer and academic, she is currently the director of ‘Rabbit Hole’ — a teaching studio that connects emerging designers with local organisations requiring creative insight.

Katrina's research draws heavily from her professional design practice and how visual communication affects perceptions of place. She is also interested in digital platforms, communities of practice, and peri-urban creative industries. In addition to collaborative research projects, Katrina is engaged with community-based initiatives that advocate for building creative capacity in Greater Western Sydney.

Dr Sebastian Pfautsch is a Senior Researcher in Urban Ecosystem Science at Western Sydney University. He studies the capacity of trees to mitigate heat and increase human thermal comfort in urban landscapes.

In his role as Research Theme Fellow (Environment and Sustainability), Dr Pfautsch develops applied science projects that allow government and industry to ’future-proof’ urban space at different scales. His projects include thermal assessment of streets, parks, playgrounds, schools, carparks and many more components of the complex fabric that make today’s towns and cities.

Colin Fisher founded Aquacell in 1996 and is the CEO, based in Australia. Aquacell designs, builds and operates water recycling schemes in Australia and USA, and holds private water utility licenses.

Colin holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering with a biotech major and has over 30 years’ experience in process engineering and business management. He has been involved in water treatment projects in 20 countries, and in 40 USA states.
Colin has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University, and has contributed to development of technology and regulatory frameworks for decentralized water re-use in many jurisdictions around the world.

Martin is the co-founder of Tiliter, an Australian tech startup that creates AI software which recognises products without barcodes. Martin has a background in Electrical Engineering and Business with a strong emphasis on challenging the normal.

Striving to drive emerging technologies, Martin uses his experience from large global corporates and startups to introduce world leading technology on local, regional and global levels. Martin follows a strict range of core values when carrying out business with a strong focus on creating environmental and social impact, ultimately trying to shape the world for the better through technology.

Director of the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at Western Sydney University, Professor André van Schaik is a pioneer and world leader in neuromorphic engineering.

Joining Western Sydney University in 2011 as a Research Professor, André has generated more than 200 publications and 35 patents, and founded three technology start-ups. André’s research focuses on understanding how neural systems in biology process sensory data so efficiently. His work aims to discover what signal processing happens when brains make decisions based on sensory information, and how that can be applied to electronic signal processing.

Register Now

Last year, with a line-up of provocative speakers, innovative hacks and interactive displays, CatalystWest sold-out weeks ahead of the event. This year will be even bigger. Don’t miss out! Act fast to secure your spot.

Tickets $235 for corporates, government, industry and individuals. As per last year’s event, look out for a number of free and concessional tickets for students and community non-profits.

CatalystWest 2018: What We Achieved

#CatWest top-trended on Twitter on the day of the event, and we attracted significant mainstream media coverage, including a spread in the Daily Telegraph.

Importantly, our Hack participants significantly influenced the strategic direction of their region. Their ideas, innovations and collaborations sparked the drafting of two major strategies on Hack themes of health and transport.

Transformative Research

As promised, the contributions of our CatalystWest collaborators led directly to, or informed leading studies by Western researchers, including:

  • Western Health decadal strategy.
  • Eating Disorders and Obesity White Paper.
  • Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Health White Paper.
  • Steiner G, Dubois S, Ee C, Mcbride K, George E, Macmillan F, Karamacoska D, Singh K, Harley A, Mcdonald K, Derrett A, Chow J, Kohler F, Hohenberg M, 2018, ‘Co-creating a model of care for a new multidisciplinary memory clinic in South Western Sydney’, Australasian Journal on Ageing, vol. 37, no Suppl. S2, pp. 77-77. 
  • Page, A, Atkinson, J, Campos, W, Heffernan, M, Ferdousi, S, Power, A, Mcdonnell, G, Maranan, N & Hickie, I 2018, ‘A decision support tool to inform local suicide prevention activity in Greater Western Sydney (Australia)’, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 52, no. 10, pp. 983-993. 
  • Dudley, DA, Van Bergen, P, McMaugh, AL & Mackenzie, E 2019, ‘The role of social media in developing young people's health literacy’, in VA Goodyear & KM Armour (eds.), Young People, Social Media and Health, pp. 147-161. 
  • Pangas, J, Ogunsiji, O, Elmir, R, Raman, S, Liamputtong, P, Burns, E, Dahlen, H & Schmied, V 2019, ‘Refugee women's experiences negotiating motherhood and maternity care in a new country: a meta-ethnographic review’, International Journal of Nursing Studies, vol. 90, pp. 31-45. 
  • O'Reilly, R & Peters K, 2018, ‘Opportunistic domestic violence screening for pregnant and post-partum women by community based health care providers’, BMC Women’s Health, vol. 18, no. 128, 1-8. 
  • Resilience.
  • Ageing White Paper.
  • Circles of Sustainability, Liverpool: Settling Strangers; Supporting Disability Needs.
  • At what Cost? Indigenous Australians’ experiences of Applying for Disability Income Support (Disability Support Pension)
  • Truong, S, Gray, T, Tracey, DK & Ward, KS 2018, ‘The Impact of Royal Botanic Gardens’ Community Greening Program on Perceived Health, Wellbeing, and Social Benefits in Social Housing Communities in NSW’, Penrith, NSW, Western Sydney University.
  • Bliuc, AM, Faulkner, N, Jakubowicz, A & McGarty, C 2018, ‘Online networks of racial hate: A systematic review of 10 years of research on cyber-racism’, Computers in Human Behavior, 87, pp.75-86.
  • Younan, S, Blignault, I, Renzaho, A & Doherty, M 2018, ‘Community-based mental health and wellbeing support for refugees’, Sax Institute for the NSW Ministry of Health. 
  • Firth, J, Torous, J, Stubbs, B, Firth, JA, Steiner, GZ, Smith, L, Alvarez‐Jimenez, M, Gleeson, J, Vancampfort, D, Armitage, CJ & Sarris, J 2019, ‘The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition’, World Psychiatry, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 119-29.
  • Ang, I, Rowe, D, Stevenson, D, Magee, L, Wong, A, Swist, T & Pollio, A 2018, ‘Planning Cultural Creation and Production in Sydney: A Venue and Infrastructure Needs Analysis’, Western Sydney University. 
  • Morgan G, Nelligan P, 2018, The Creativity Hoax: Precarious Work and the Gig Economy, Anthem Press, UK.
  • Charlesworth S, Smith M, 2018, Gender pay equity in The Wages Crisis in Australia: What it is and What to do About it, Stewart, Andrew, Stanford, Jim, Hardy, Tess, University of Adelaide, South Australia, pp. 85-101. 
  • Higgs, J, Cork, S & Horsfall, 2019 (eds.), ‘Challenging future practice possibilities’, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Brill-Sense.
  • Wood, N, Charlwood, G, Zecchin, C, Hansen, V, Douglas, M & Pit, S 2019, ‘Qualitative exploration of the impact of employment and volunteering upon the health and wellbeing of African refugees settled in regional Australia: a refugee perspective’, BMC Public Health, vol. 19, no. 143, pp. 1-15. 
  • Berger, N, Hanham, J, Stevens, CJ & Holmes, K 2019, ‘Immediate feedback improves career decision self-efficacy and aspirational alignment’, Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, no. 255, pp. 1-5. 
  • Gray, T, Bates, K, Graham, C & Han, F 2019, ‘Exploring Ways to Elevate Women's Leadership Voices to Achieve Career Longevity and Gender Parity’, Penrith, NSW, Western Sydney University. 
  • Holmes, K, Gore, J, Smith, M & Lloyd, A 2018, ‘An integrated analysis of school students’ aspirations for STEM careers: which student and school factors are most predictive?’, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 655-675.


CatalystWest is a non-profit event. It’s success as a proven vehicle for positive and evidence-based change relies on the support of sponsors and scale of imagination our collaborators bring.

A range of opportunities exist for sponsors to be a part of the transformation.

Hey! We’re building a city over here.

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