This community has lots to say!

Social Planning Consulting Processes

Let’s get inspired!


Hi, I’m Wendy Sarkissian – author, planner, consultant and community engagement facilitator.


I am passionate about inspirational process in social planning: helping people create places and processes that really are inspiration for the future.


I have been working in planning and design for many years.






Initially trained as an educator and in Arts, I hold a Masters of Town Planning from Adelaide University and a PhD in ethics and planning from Murdoch University. I’ve worked in local government, taught at several universities in Australia and overseas and managed a small, independent, award-winning social planning firm for the past thirty years.

So what can you do now?


Well, it depends.


I offer social planning consulting services, workshops and training, community engagement processes at all scales and on all topics, research, mentoring and keynote addresses, lectures and speeches. I also act as an expert witness in a wide range of fields, provide strategic policy advice and just plain old support. I am currently mentoring several postgraduate students.


If you’re after some reading materials to inspire or guide you, you might want to take a look at Kitchen Table Sustainability. It’s a comprehensive book which provides practical ideas, examples and strategies to engaging communities for a sustainable future.


If you need help planning an effective and inspiring  community or stakeholder engagement process for your inspirational design or development, take a look at the SpeakOut book (the SpeakOut is just one of many creative community processes that I use). Or you can check out my consultancy offerings. If creativity is a challenge in your research and engagement processes, have a look at Creative Community Planning for ideas that will inspire you to work “at the Edge”.


If you’re after specific design guidelines for your planning project, so you can create a place that is culturally appropriate, suitable for all ages, environmentally friendly and, above all, inspirational, you may want to contact me directly…


Many pages in this website explain my approach to social planning.

I believe that it’s a serious matter


I grew up in a suburb built with identical houses on a site originally cleared for an airport.


There were no facilities and services, no trees or living things. It made a huge impression on me and has fired my enthusiasm for social planning.


Basically, my approach it’s user-focussed, highly ethical and undertaken with great care to ensure that the users of the program or space are fully consulted.


And inspirational!


We can be thorough and conscientious and still be creative and imaginative.


I am also committed to providing comprehensive reports on all investigations and engagement processes that yield practical results.



A Community SpeakOut, Granville, Sydney, 2005

Social planners work inspire and to bring life to the processes of planning, design and development.


We bring  the human aspect into the equation by involving people directly in decision-making processes.


We frequently speak on behalf of those with the softest voices: low-income people, women, children and young people, older people, people with a disability.


Often we are the voice of Nature and sustainability.

Social planners like me speak for the future.


Clara Greed in  Social Town Planning: Planning and Social Policy (Routledge, 1999) argues that:

Social town planning may broadly be defined as any movement to introduce policies that take into account more fully the needs of the diversity of human beings who live in our towns and cities.


I use this definition but add to it a consideration for other-than-human Nature, working with this ethic to achieve integration of human-based needs and desires with the wider considerations of sustainability.


I am strongly committed to working at the cutting edge of research and policy and abreast of current research. I have reviewed the literature on topics as wide-ranging as community engagement, demographic change, park planning and design, crime prevention, visitation to national parks and social issues associated with medium-density and high-rise housing.

Planning with care


Planning with care means that I am mindful that an ethic of caring guides my work with clients, individuals, companies and communities, my design, selection and use of methods, techniques, theories and processes and my ability to listen and respond.



I extend this ethic of caring to the other-than-human world and strive to balance planning for Nature with human requirements.












Listening is the social policy of everyday life…