13 Mar 2019
SYDNEY, 13 MARCH 2019
Olivia Leal-Walker is one young voice with something big to say about improving the lives of people in Western Sydney.
The Sustainability Advisor for Frasers Property Australia has just been named the 2019 recipient of the respected Urban Development Institute of Australia
NSW Roy Sheargold Scholarship, an award that recognises exceptional individual professional or academic achievement.
Ms Leal-Walker is a worthy winner. Since joining Frasers Property in 2014, she has worked on property industry leading projects, including Australia’s first NCOS certified carbon neutral buildings, NSW’s first Six Green Star Communities projects as well as Australia’s highest rated Green Star Performance Industrial portfolio.
She is an outspoken young leader, completing the Centre for Sustainability Leadership’s Futuremaker’s Fellowship program and the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. Aged just 25, Ms Leal-Walker is already a mentor to young adults through the Rotary Youth Leadership program.
Despite current and past success, Ms Leal-Walker has her eyes firmly set on a sustainable Australian future and is particularly focussed on Western Sydney.
“I grew up in a beautiful farm in the Hawkesbury, and I’m really passionate about the land and the incredibly resilient people in Western Sydney,” Ms Leal-Walker says.
“There is a lot of growth occurring in Western Sydney, and while there are some great examples, not all of it is considerate of the needs of the people who live there.
“I see places that are not connected to the infrastructure, transport, work or recreational space to help people live productive lives. These developments are also often really hot, with no trees, big roads and black rooves, impacting on people’s quality of life.
“It really bothers me because I care about the people who live there, and I’ve seen what good looks like.”
Ms Leal-Walker wants to bring the simple idea of white roofing, which has economic, environmental and wellbeing benefits, to the whole Western Sydney region.
“During heatwaves it can be significantly hotter in Western Sydney compared to the rest of the city. There are a number of different ways to reduce urban heat, but white roofs are a simple way to keep housing cool, and are a really visual statement about the quality of housing in the development.
“There has been so much research already in this area, so my idea is to get all the key people in the room to get this idea off the ground on a large scale.
“If we can get developers, building suppliers and councils together to understand the benefits, they in turn can ensure the information and product is available for consumers at the time of building.”
Alongside the scholarship, Ms Leal-Walker has also been invited to sit on the UDIA NSW Young Leaders Committee and the ICON Research Steering Committee.
“I am most excited about having a seat at the table, being able to contribute my ideas and thoughts to the UDIA, in particular around sustainability,” she says.
“Winning this award reaffirms that my voice is valid, and that I do have something important to give back to our industry.
“My age is no barrier, and can actually be my biggest opportunity. I can help shape the world that I’ll still be living in a long time from now, so it’s very real to me.
“I have a vision and I want to leave a legacy.”
Ms Leal-Walker is grateful to the UDIA for the opportunity that the Roy Sheargold Scholarship, which includes a $7500 payment towards professional or academic development, will provide.
“This really gives me a foot in the door and will help me build networks and relationships industry-wide.”
ABOUT THE AWARD
The Roy Sheargold Scholarship was founded in memory of one of the most respected figures in the property development sector, life member of UDIA National and UDIA NSW. Roy sat on the Council of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (NSW) for almost 50 years ago. He remained actively involved in the industry, UDIA and international industry bodies for more than 45 years. Roy believed that if you wanted to be a great developer you had to continually update your knowledge and travel the world to learn from international developers.
The UDIA NSW Roy Sheargold Scholarship is awarded annually to an individual who demonstrates exceptional professional and/or academic achievement. The award is about helping individuals get to the next level. For this reason, the ideal applicant would use the scholarship to conduct research, further their education and/or professional networks.