About Us

Institute for Rural Futures logoOur mission is to help plan a better future for rural Australia by learning from the past and understanding the present.

The Institute for Rural Futures (IRF) continues a strong tradition at the University of New England in rural socio-economic research and extension carried out by independent non-profit research centres. The first such centre was the Kellogg Rural Adjustment Unit, established in 1976. This became the Australian Rural Adjustment Unit in 1980 and the Rural Development Centre in 1984.

The IRF program

Our program is concerned with developing a better understanding of the changes that are occurring in rural Australia. We use this understanding to contribute to better social, economic and resource management policy to help rural communities respond to change. The Institute's research themes and strategy and program falls into three broad areas: the social impacts of change, the economic impacts of change and the environmental impacts of change.


Sustainable rural and regional communities adapting proactively in response to changing human and environmental systems.


Strengthen the capacity of rural and regional communities in Australia and the Asia‐Pacific region to sustain livelihoods and the environments and natural resources they depend on.


Rural and regional communities face unprecedented challenges to the interlinked human and natural systems they value and rely on. The Institute for Rural Futures (IRF) works to promote understanding of these linked systems in order to better pursue livelihood and environmental sustainability. To this end our researchers:

  • Collaborate within and beyond UNE in research that is participatory, multidisciplinary, integrated and evidence‐based
  • Contribute actively to public debate over the challenges facing rural and regional communities;
  • Recognise a diversity of world-views and values
  • Acknowledge the complexities of natural systems in rural and regional areas and the uncertainties of sustaining livelihoods within these areas
  • Provide unbiased analysis and advice.

Our people

The Institute's staff come from a wide range of backgrounds, including environmental science and natural resource management through to economics, sociology and social work. The Institute is able to use a range of research methodologies, including: GIS and spatial analysis, qualitative research methods, mail and telephone surveys, and statistical analysis. Staff have extensive experience in both policy analysis and community consultation.