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SGS scholarship recipient encouraged to tackle social inequalities in urban development

Posted October 25, 2022

Viviana Silva SGS Economics and Planning article scholarship recipient

Moving abroad to study a Master of Urban Planning didn’t go according to plan for Viviana Silva. The Peruvian student arrived in Melbourne in early 2020, settled into her accommodation, started her course, and then the wave of COVID-19 lockdowns hit. Despite her unsettling start, Viviana loved every minute of her experience at The University of Melbourne.

“I chose Melbourne because I wanted to live in a city where I could learn as an example: a liveable city where urban planning is actively applied. I did get the chance to explore Melbourne a little but the highlight of my time in Australia was my access to the exceptional professors and staff at The University of Melbourne. They truly motivated me to question the existing structures that have allowed for the current levels of social inequity and inspired me to work to reduce them.

“I studied Architecture at the National University of Engineering in Lima Peru and completed courses in territorial management and planning and obtained a diploma in environmental management. However, my best academic experience so far is to have studied at The University of Melbourne — it was such a high-quality education,” she said.

Viviana was awarded the SGS Economics and Planning Graham Larcombe Scholarship for academic excellence and a genuine commitment to addressing inequality and social disadvantage in urban development.

“I am deeply honoured to be awarded the scholarship and feel even more honoured after knowing how talented past recipients of this award are. I am certain that this award, just as it is now encouraging me to confront social inequalities in urban development, will continue to encourage future students," she said.

The scholarship reaffirms my commitment to using my skills and knowledge to reduce spatial inequalities and empower economically disadvantaged communities so they can have fair access to quality public spaces. It is my hope to contribute to a more just city through my work.

— Viviana Silva

Back in Lima, Viviana is busy working as an architect applying her new skills to government education precincts and teaching architecture students key insights from her time in Australia: “Unfortunately, right now, urban planning is seen as more of a checklist to complete by local government in Lima — people don’t see the importance. But the students I’m teaching are fascinated by what I'm sharing with them. It’s very rewarding."

The SGS Economics and Planning scholarship is named after the late Graham Larcombe, a champion of the people. Graham was a co-consultant, teacher and honorary adviser at SGS. He was passionate about equality of opportunity, environmental sustainability and the proper, inclusive governance of our cities, towns and regions — for him, these were integral elements of a truly prosperous society. For SGS, the scholarship is a way to perpetuate Graham's ideas and beliefs.