Governing Public Space: The use of legal and non-legal mechanisms of exclusion in Melbourne and Frankston

N. Helps

PhD candidate at Monash University,

This project examines the tensions and complexities surrounding the use and governance of public space within Victoria. Specifically this project investigates the legal and non-legal mechanisms of control, which operate in public space and considers how they contribute to the regulation of that space, through for example excluding ‘undesirable’ populations. In order to examine the use of legal controls, this project uses the case example of Victoria’s move-on powers. Move-on powers were introduced in Victoria in 2009 and signify an extension to the social control arsenal available to police and authorised officers. These powers allow police to determine, according to their discretion, who can and cannot use public spaces by granting them the authority to move along those they deem ‘undesirable’. This project seeks to investigate how move-on powers have been brought into the process of governing public space, and the interplay between these power and other non-legal mechanisms of control (e.g. urban design and architectural initiatives).

This project also aims to extend the theoretical and methodological work of Mariana Valverde by further developing our understanding of social and spatial control. Specifically by drawing on Valverde’s work on ‘scalar analysis’ and ‘spatiotemporality’ this study will incorporate an analysis of the more nuanced and sometimes overlooked qualitative elements that shape the governance of space.


Nicola is a PhD candidate and teaching associate at Monash University. Her current research explores the tensions and complexities surrounding the use and governance of public space within Victoria.


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