Feature Article - FACTBase reaches major milestone


FACTBase, the Committee for Perth’s collaborative, long-term research project with The University of Western Australia, reached a major milestone this month when it turned 10. Since the first report, Westward Bound, written by Professor Matthew Tonts, FACTBase has been benchmarking the liveability of Perth and its global connectedness, by examining its economic, social, demographic and political character.

Matthew and I had been collaborators for two year’s prior and when I joined the Committee for Perth we were both clear that its success would depend on the evidence base it could provide to public policy makers. Like a proud mum, I clearly remember the day that FACTBase was born with the signing of the first Agreement in September 2008. Ten months later, our first bulletin, Matthew’s piece was published. Since then, we’ve produced a substantial amount of high-quality work, 61 FACTBase Bulletins and seven FACTBase Special Reports, including Perth as a Global Minerals and Energy Resources Hub in 2013, Fremantle as a reconnected city in 2015 and the more recent Perth as a Resilient Economy. Our aim has always been to start with the facts and then analyse what it means for Perth and its future and in the process starting important conversations which have lead to considered debate and have made positive impact on public policy. 

Over the past decade, our FACTBase reports have been researched and written by a diverse team of researchers, including FACTBase Convenor Professor Matthew Tonts, Dr Paul Maginn, Dr Veronica Huddleston, Dr Kirsten Martinus, Committee for Perth long-term Research Consultant Gemma Davis, and our very own Research Officer Georgia Harford-Mills, both of who have adjunct status at the university.

Matthew said the partnership with the Committee for Perth provided his team at UWA with a sharp focus on urban research, that was informed by the needs of the city and its people. Topics covered over the past decade include Perth’s boomtime, personal income levels, retail trade deregulation, liveability, global competitiveness, youth employment, volunteerism, our ageing population, tourism, and gender in the C-suite. What has been important is that FACTBase has brought a spatial dimension to data so that reports are more than just a series of facts and figures.

“With FACTBase we have a real ear to the ground and feel like we were able to have influence over discussions and debate. Rather than being passive and listening to discussions, we’d come up with pragmatic evidence in support of policy debate. One of the big challenges for us, which was also a lot of fun, was to make sure that we were adaptable enough to respond to issues as they emerged and be able to switch our focus as new issues came over the horizon,” said Professor Tonts.

“It’s also been an absolute pleasure to work with Marion, her team and Chairman John Langoulant AO. Their passion for the Perth region is infectious, to be a valued partner has given us an incredible insight into issues that we might not have otherwise thought of.”

Committee for Perth Chairman, John Langoulant AO said the quality of the FACTBase research set the organisation apart.

“There’s no-one else in Perth carrying out the relevant and robust research that the Committee is. It not only gives us a real point of difference but has helped to give us the credibility that we have with policy and decision makers,” said Mr Langoulant.

“The FACTBase partnership between The University of Western Australia and the Committee for Perth has delivered great mutual benefits. As a university we are committed to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of relevant research and time and again the FACTBase reports have delivered on this. We look forward to this partnership continuing and sharing our research with the WA community through this forum,” said The University of Western Australia Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dawn Freshwater.

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