Nicola Helps


Nicola is a PhD candidate, teaching associate and research assistant at Monash University. Nicola also completed her undergraduate degree at Monash University and was a recipient of a Faculty of Arts Publication scholarship for her honours thesis in 2014. Her doctoral research examines the role of move-on powers in the governance of public space within Victoria, and considers how these powers contribute to experiences of exclusion for socially marginalised populations.

Research Topic

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


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 powers 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.


Dr Claire Spivakovsky
Dr Marie Segrave

Research Interests

Governance and control, practices of exclusion, criminalisation of social marginalisation