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Dr Neil Barr

Dr Neil Barr is the leader of the Rural, Social Research Team with the Department of Primary Industries, Victoria.

Why do some country football teams find it hard to survive? Why are Beaut Blokes weekends so popular? Why are some small country towns dying and others thriving? Will the corporate farm supersede the family farm? What is the ‘grass change’? Where does the city end and the country begin? What are the environmental concerns of farmers? Why are wind generators so controversial? How do we shape the countryside and its environment by what we choose in the supermarket?

These are just some of the questions that researcher Neil Barr is being asked by rural communities in an effort to understand, explain and manage change in their communities.

The nature of Dr Barr’s rural social research work is changing as he responds to a growing number of requests to explain his research.

From once seeing these requests as an interruption to the work of a researcher, I am now seeing these requests as the reason for my career,’ said Dr Barr.

As a researcher, I find I am learning as much from the community as they learn from me. Their questions increasingly set my own preferred research agenda.’

The increasing need for explanations of the commercial applications and social implications of his research is changing the nature of Dr Barr’s career as a researcher.

The various reports of Dr Barr and his colleagues do not fill the expansive gap that remains beyond the reach of personal involvement. These reports are not always accessible, are often written for a specialised audience and most importantly, do not offer an holistic interpretation of the present and future of farming and rural communities.

The House on the Hill Book

This book is a result of the Land & Water Australia Senior Research Fellowship award which allowed  Dr Barr the breathing space to complete a manuscript based on his experiences as a rural social researcher.

On the land and in country towns, the battle to survive goes on forever. Increasingly, the worlds needs food and fibre, but squeezes out the communities which provide them. Young people leave, farmers sell up, towns die, football teams amalgamate, communities keep reinventing themselves.

What’s going on? What can we do? Neil Barr looks close up and he looks at the big picture. What affects real people on the land affects everybody.

Publications and Resources

None listed


Land & Water Australia. 2009. Dr Neil Barr. [Online] (Updated August 11th, 2009)
Available at: [Accessed Wednesday 23rd of October 2013 01:20:39 AM ].

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id: 3175 / created: 14 April, 2009 / last updated: 11 August, 2009