Dr Sharon Harwood

Ph.D, MTURP, B.Bus

University Fellow

Sharon Harwood RPIA is a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia.  Sharon is a certified and practicing planner with more than 24 years’ experience working with remotely located communities on natural resource planning, community planning and development projects.  Sharon is the Chair of the Tropical North Queensland branch of the Planning Institute of Australia and the co-ordinator of the Graduate Certificate Planning and Indigenous Communities at JCU.

More recently she has been working with industry and community to identify the disjuncts in the planning and development system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Trusts and Prescribed Body Corporates.  Sharon's primary research interest is centred upon how to create a parallel tradition of Indigenous Planning within the Queensland planning and development system so that Australia's First Nations communities are given the opportunity to create their own development trajectories.

Research Interests

  • Remote communities
  • Indigenous communities
  • Planning theory
  • Community Planning
  • Regional Planning

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Research Projects

Current Projects

Canadian Government Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

MinErAL Network: Total Value $2.5 million (Canadian)

Role: Australian Research Leader

The Knowledge Network Mining Encounters and Indigenous Sustainable Livelihoods: Cross-Perspectives from the Circumpolar North and Melanesia/Australia (the MinErAL network). Is an international knowledge network focused on Indigenous people and mining encounters. 

Publications & Resources


Bird, D.K., Govan, J., Murphy, H.T., Harwood, S.K., Haynes, K., Carson, D., Russell, S., King, D.C., Wensing, E., Tsakissiris, N.O., & Larkin, S. (2013) Future Change in Ancient Worlds: Indigenous adaptation in northern Australia. Gold Coast, Qld, Australia: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Book Chapters

Harwood, S., Wensing, E, & Ensign, S.  (2016, in press). Place Based Planning for Economic Development in Remote Aboriginal Settlements.  In A. Taylor, D. Carson, P. Ensign, L. Husky, G. Eilmsteiner-Saxinger & R. Ole Rasmussen (Ed.), Settlements at the Edge. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing. 

Prideaux, B., Thompson, M., & Harwood, S. (2016, in press). Renewing and re-invigorating settlements: A role for tourism? In  A. Taylor, D. Carson, P. Ensign, L. Husky, G. Eilmsteiner-Saxinger & R.O. Rasmussen (Ed.), Settlements at the Edge. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing. 

Harwood, S.K., & Noske, R. (2014). The complexities of community-based tourism: how external forces influence the sustainability of bird watching tourism in the remote Arfak Mountains of West Papua. In: Rainforest Tourism, Conservation and Management: challenges for sustainable development (pp. 289-303). Earthscan Forest Library. Routledge.

Harwood, S.K., Carson, D., Marino, E., &  McTurk, N. (2011). Weather hazards, place and resilience in the remote Norths. In D. Carson, R.O. Rasmussen, P. Ensign, L. Huskey & A. Taylor (eds.), Demography at the edge: remote human populations in developed nations (pp. 307-320). Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing.

Schmallegger, D., Harwood, S.K., Cerveny, L., & Müller, D. (2011). Tourist populations and local capital. In D. Carson, R.O. Rasmussen, P. Ensign, L. Huskey & A. Taylor (eds.), Demography at the Edge: remote human populations in developed nations (pp. 271-288). Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

Journal Articles

King, D., Harwood, S., Cottrell, A., Gurtner, Y., & Firdaus, A. (2015). Land use planning for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation: operationalizing policy and legislation at local levels. Input Paper, Prepared for the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015, ISDR, Geneva.

Harwood, S.K., Carson, D., Wensing, E., & Jackson, L.E. (2014). Natural hazard resilient communities and land use planning: the limitations of planning governance in tropical Australia. Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters, 4(2), 1-15.

Harwood, S.K., Haynes, K., Bird, D.K., & Govan, J. (2014). Children's perceptions and adaptive behaviours in response to seasonal change and extreme weather in Broome, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 29(1), 39-44

Wensing, E., Harwood, S.K., Bird, D.K., & Haynes, K. (2014). Conflicting world views: disjuncture between climate change knowledge, land use planning and disaster resilience in remote Indigenous communities in northern Australia. Geography Research Forum, 34,  92-108

Harwood, S.K., Prideaux, B.R., & Schmallegger, D. (2011). Social equity in regional development planning: who plans for remote communities? Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business and Government, 17(1), 13-30

Harwood, S.K. (2011). Regional plans and remote settlements: the implications of statutory planning upon resource dependent economies. Queensland Planner, 51(3), 12-17

Carson, D., Schmallegger, D., & Harwood, S.K. (2010). A city for the temporary? Political economy and urban planning in Darwin, Australia. Urban Policy and Research, 28(3), 293-310

Harwood, S.K. (2010). Planning for community based tourism in a remote location. Sustainability, 2(7), 1909-1923

Conference Proceedings

Harwood, S. (2008) Towards a Theory of Remote Area Planning and Development: Community Based Bird Watching Tourism in the Arfak Mountains, West Papua.  Proceedings of Built Environment in Developing Countries Conference, Malaysia, December 2008.

Harwood, S. (2007) Planning and Development of Community Based Tourism: Bird Watching Destinations. In  S. Richardson, L. Fredline, & M.Ternel (Eds.), CAUTHE 2008 Proceedings of the 18th Annual CAUTHE Conference, Griffith University, Gold Coast. 

Carson, D., & Harwood, S.  (2006) Authenticity as Competitive Advantage for Remote Tourism Destinations. In CAUTHE 2007, Proceedings of the 17th Annual CAUTHE Conference. University of Technology Sydney. 

Conference Papers & Presentations


April: State Conference Queensland Environmental Law Association 

  • Internalising Indigenous Planning within the Queensland Planning System by Dr Sharon Harwood and Dominic Hammersley (Principal Planner Cardno HRP)

May: National Congress: Planning Institute of Australia 

  • Innovation Thinking and Indigenous ways of Knowing: The future of Queensland Planning by Malcolm Griffin (Director PSA Consulting) and Dr Sharon Harwood

August: Vienna Alpine Summer School (by invitation from the University of Vienna, Austria)

  • Extracting Benefits for remote communities from the resources sector in Northern Australia
  • Being Remote: what does this mean?

November: North Queensland Planning Institute of Australia Symposium

  • Indigenous planning and Advancing the Purpose of the Planning Act 2015: what this means for the profession and contemporary planning practice in Queensland


November: Queensland Environmental Law Association – Cooktown Regional Intensive

  • Internalising Indigenous Planning within the Queensland Planning System by Dr Sharon Harwood and Dominic Hammersley (Principal Planner Cardno HRP)

October: Living and Working on Country

  • Development on the Indigenous estate: Navigating through the system 
  • Defining the disjuncts in the Queensland Planning and Development System for the Indigenous Estate

August: Conference of Hunter and Gatherer Society (CHAGS 11), Vienna Austria

  • Place Based Approach to Regional Planning in remote areas

June: National Native Title Conference: Port Douglas

  • Statutory land use planning in Cape York: the make or break of the local and regional economy by Dr Sharon Harwood and Mr Ed Wensing (FPIA) 

TNQ PIA Professional Development Events 2015:

October: Expert Witness training (in conjunction with P&E Law, All About Law and Cairns Magistrate)

June: Qld Globe presentation @ JCU

May: PIA – AQUIS seminar 


December: Thriving Northern Communities Seminar Storuman Sweden, 9 December, 2014. The Centre for Rural Medicine (Glesbygdsmedicinskt Centrum (GMC)) and Akademi Norr representing Australia’s Northern Futures Collaborative Research Network (CRN).

  • Planning for Change: Place Based Planning in remote Northern Australia

November: A Northern Perspective: Northern Australian Development Conference 2014

  • Place Based Regional Planning and Development in Northern Australia

July: Faculty of Science and Engineering Public Lecture Series – with Nikki Huddy (Adjunct)

  • A Vision for Cairns in 2050


July: Contemporary issues in long‐distance commute work in the extractive industries and other sectors - “Lives on the Move”, Institute for Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna,

Institute for Urban Studies and Regional Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Also edited all of the abstracts for this seminar with Prof Keith Storey

  • The Challenges in converting Long Distance Commuters to a Permanent Residential Workforce in Remote Australia: Cloncurry North West Queensland by Dr Sharon Harwood

June: Faculty of Science and Engineering Public Lecture Series – with Francis Walker (kuku Yalanji) and Dr Deanne Bird (Risk Frontiers)

  • Climate change adaptation strategies of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji women (Cairns)

June: NCCARF conference Townsville JCU

  • Planning and legislative provisions as adaptive enablers in Indigenous communities


July: Faculty of Science and Engineering Public Lecture Series – with Rowan Shee and Marilyn Wallace Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation

  • Land Use Development on Aboriginal Freehold Land: Traditional Owners need not (cannot) apply


November: Seminar for Cairns based Torres Strait Islanders as Native Title holders

  • Land tenure issues related to residential and commercial leasing for mainland Torres Strait Islanders

October: Invited Lecture to staff and students - University of Vienna (University of Vienna - ReSDA Project “LACE Labour Mobility and Community Participation in the Extractive Industries”)

  • Impacts of fly-in/fly-out upon remote communities in Australia: Cloncurry

July: TNQ Planning Institute of Australia- Professional Development seminar:

  • The theory and practice of Social Planning in rural Queensland Places

April: Faculty of Science and Engineering Public Lecture Series

  • The potential of community based tourism as a development option in remote locales


October 2010: Beyond Periphery Symposium hosted by Charles Darwin University Darwin (NT) and Whyalla (SA)

  • Community Based Approach to Strategic Regional Planning: Creating the Regional Development Australia’s Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Regional Roadmap. By Sharon Harwood, James Cook University, Prof Bruce Prideaux of James Cook University and Sarah Powell, Regional Development Australia.
  • Whyallla: Mitigating social impacts and managing consequences: the LNG industry in Gladstone by Sharon Harwood James Cook University

Research Reports

‘Ingham CBD Concept MasterPlan’  Partnership with Hinchinbrook Shire Council, CAArchitects, Total Project Architects, Andrew Prowse Landscape Architects, Planz Town Planning    http://www.inghamcbd.com.au/master-plan.php   June 2015

‘Sustaining Communities in Partnership with Resourcing the Mining Industry: A Skills Model for Cairns”. Research services for Queensland Resources Council.  May 2013.

Harwood, S & McGrath, L. (2012) Cloncurry Shire Community Plan. Background Report 1: Demographic Profile of Cloncurry Shire. Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, Cairns (pp.68).

Harwood, S. (2012) Cloncurry Shire Community Plan.  Background Report 3: Young People’s perspectives on Cloncurry and its Future.  Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, Cairns (pp.23). 

Harwood, S. (2012) Cloncurry Shire Community Plan.  Background Report 4: Results from the Long Distance Commuter Survey.  Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, Cairns (pp 38).

Harwood, S. (2012) Shire of Broome: Community Infrastructure Planning and Development. Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, Cairns (102pp.)

Professional Positions, Memberships & Awards


  • Member - Queensland Environmental Law Association (2015- Current)
  • Chair - Planning Institute of Australia - Tropical North Queensland Branch (2014-Current)
  • Member - Planning Institute of Australia - Education and State Committee (2014 - Current)


2015JCU Awards for Excellence - Community Engagement - Ingham CBD Masterplan
2014JCU Office Teaching and Learning Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning
2012Queensland State Planning Excellence Awards: Commendation for Cutting Edge Teaching and Research Award:  Graduate Certificate Planning and Indigenous Communities
2012Queensland State Planning Excellence Awards: Commendation: Public Engagement and Community Planning Award: Youth Speaks: Cloncurry Community Plan


T: 0429 006 431
E: sharon.harwood1@jcu.edu.au

James Cook University
Cairns, QLD