CoastAdapt in action – How CoastAdapt is being used to support climate change adaptation in Australia

David Rissik1

1Senior Principal Climate Change Adaptation with BMT Global


CoastAdapt was launched in June 2107. Since then there have been various updates, but it has generally remained constant and available to all users and interested people to support their climate adaptation needs. Whether considering risk, making a plan, or just wanting to learn more, users have been accessing the framework.  I will give a brief overview of CoastAdapt, including some of the updates and will present some of the ways in which it is being used.  Examples will include local government, industry, and the local government sector.


David Rissik is a Senior Principal Climate Change Adaptation with BMTGlobal, an Adjunct Professor with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, and a Non-Executive Director of Green Cross Australia.  He is heavily involved in coastal management planning projects in the eastern states of Australia, and doing a number of other projects supporting adaptation planning in government and industry. Dave is a coastal ecologist, with a strong interest in socio-ecological systems, and is very focussed on helping to link science and research with the users of the work including in policy and management.

Tasman Island weed eradication program

Dr Josephine Castillo1
1 Wildcare (Friends of Tasman Island), Tasmania, Australia  


Tasman Island is a remote, precipitous island off Tasmania’s south-east, accessible only by helicopter. Its lighthouse guides shipping to Hobart, including the Sydney-to-Hobart yachtrace, and a close view of Tasman Island is the highlight of the famous Three Capes walk. In the days when the lighthouse was manned, the keepers needed to be self-sufficient. They cut down all the thick growth of trees for fuel, created pasture for sheep, cattle and other animals and grew vegetables. Now that Tasman Island is part of a national park, the vegetation is returning to its natural state and the removal of introduced weeds is being tackled by volunteers.


Josephine Castillo (PhD Law) recently retired from a career as a lawyer with government and, from a love of the Tasmanian wilderness, has found herself coordinating a weed eradication program for the Friends of Tasman Island, a volunteer group that formed in 2005. Its aim is to restore Tasman Island’s natural and cultural treasures, degraded since the lighthouse was demanned in 1975. The Friends welcome interested people with the right skills onto their twice-yearly working bees.

The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program – Development and Implementation

Mr Lawrance Ferns1, Mr Viktor Brenners1

1Department Of Environment, Land, Water & Planning


Climate change impacts are projected to increase the risks of coastal hazards, including sea-level rise, inundation, erosion and storms. These hazards will vary geographically across Victoria’s coast based on the unique characteristics of each particular coastal setting (climatic, topographic, geomorphic, socio-economic).

The Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program (VCMP) is a 4 year program that started in 2017 to inform spatial prioritisation of monitoring investment effort along Victoria’s coastline and to ensure that data collected is managed centrally and made publicly available. It will provide communities with information on coastal condition, change, hazards, and the expected impacts associated with climate change that will facilitate evidence-based decision making (i.e. invest in protection and intervention, or adaptation, or retreat).

The VCMP will set up targeted data gathering and systematic monitoring programs within four program delivery themes:
1. Embayments and estuaries
2. Exposed sandy beach/dune shores and headland/reef controlled beaches
3. Protection structures and adaptation options
4. Decision support and visualisation tools

The VCMP aims to:
· Employ risk assessment frameworks to consider current and future risks to natural coastlines and engineered structures, that will inform prioritisation of coastal monitoring.
· Develop partnerships with community groups and institutions to co-invest in coastal monitoring projects at both regional and local scales.
· Develop data management infrastructure and decision support tools to inform policy evaluation and application, planning and climate adaptation instruments, and investment and maintenance decisions for coastal protection structures.

This paper will describe how the VCMP was developed, its current status and plans for its long term future.


Lawrance Ferns is currently Acting Manager of Marine Policy & Programs Section of the Biodiversity Division in the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. The Biodiversity Division has a well established history managing environmental data for use in management applications, particularly modelling of data to inform spatial planning and information products.

Lawrance has an extensive career in marine ecology and planning. In the early 1990s he developed the Northern Territory’s first geo-spatial database of marine & coastal data and to underpin the Marine & Coastal Regionalisation of Northern Australia, and in later years was project manager for the Environmental Inventory of Victoria’s Marine Ecosystems. Both these projects supported the future identification of marine protected areas.

In later years, Lawrance moved into the terrestrial realm and for 9 years was coordinator of Victoria’s Fire Ecology Program that introduced new approaches for integrating spatial ecology principles into fire management planning.

Since late 2016, Lawrance has returned to the marine realm, and amongst a range of topics, has been managing the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program. An important implementation stage of this Program has been to first undertake a spatial prioritisation of the coastal zone based on coastal vulnerability mapping depicting erosion and inundation under future climate change scenarios. Lawrance would like to present how Victoria is establishing a long term monitoring program to understand how the coast is changing in response to a changing climate.

Identifying and incorporating community coastal values in coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning: A case study of the south west of Western Australia

Joanne Ludbrook1

1Curtin University, Perth, Australia, 2Peron Naturaliste Partnership, Mandurah, Australia


This research is a community focused coastal climate change study; it will show how community coastal values can be identified and incorporated into coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning in Western Australia. Several coastal cities and towns in the south west of Western Australia have been identified as being at significant risk from the impacts of climate change (Damara WA, 2012). Coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning are often undertaken from an engineering perspective. However, because sustainability deals with social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects of the coast, it is important that technical information supports, and is supported by, clear understanding of how the community interprets and values the coast.

The present study focuses on key coastal sites in the southwest settlements of Rockingham, Bunbury and Busselton. The research aims to identify and gain a better understanding of community coastal values and how these values may be impacted as a result of climate change. The research also aims to explore how social learning can enhance understanding and knowledge uptake of coastal climate change in the community. The research results will then be used to inform the development of a coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning framework to better plan and manage current and future coastal risks. These processes in turn help support coastal sustainability.

Damara WA. (2012). Coastal Hazard Mapping for Economic Analysis of Climate Change Adaptation in the Peron-Naturaliste Region (169-01).


Joanne has worked for the Peron Naturaliste Partnership for 6 years. The majority of this work relates to coastal climate change adaptation, to build capacity and support local government in supporting resilient coastal communities in the south west of Western Australia. Joanne is also the Western Australian branch – Volunteer Coordinator of the Australian Coastal Society and a committee member of the Western Australian Landcare Network.

Changing tides, changing times: will our cities be climate ready?

Ms Liz Johnstone1, Ms Siân Willmott1

1AECOM, Melbourne, Australia


High performance buildings and assets are essential for our future cities. The decisions we make today will determine how ready we are for the future – particularly in the face of a changing climate.

We are seeing a shift towards resilience in our assets and communities. To reduce the cost of damage and improve business continuity engineers and other built environment professionals are engaging more with climate science.

We are demanding more from our built environment, and expecting it to perform under variable and challenging conditions. With many of our cities on the coast, appreciating these longer term factors will enable the spaces we design and build today to be smarter, have greater function and last well into the future.

This presentation will draw on leadership in sustainability and how embedding future climate considerations into long term asset design may provide useful guidance for the coastal zone. It will draw on project examples to explore the additional measures that can improve the capacity to cope with greater uncertainty, embed resilience principles into new and existing infrastructure, and foster collaboration for a stronger future.  Challenges in applying these approaches across broader precincts and across public and private land will also be explored.

Liz and Sian work together in sustainability in the buildings and places team at AECOM.  Together they bring public and private sector perspectives, technical and policy skills and a long view to the problems they solve.


Siân Willmott is a senior sustainability consultant with AECOM and committed to delivering high performance sustainable buildings and communities. She has design experience across commercial, residential, educational, healthcare, industrial and master planned projects and holds both Green Star and Infrastructure Sustainability accreditation.

Siân is the Chair of the Australia and New Zealand Young Engineering network Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)

Liz Works with Sian in the Buildings and Places team at AECOM, as Associate Director – Sustainability. Living in flood-prone Elwood has led Liz to almost 30 years of involvement in coastal planning and management. Liz has a community and  government background  – as a St Kilda Councillor and Mayor of Port Phillip. Liz also chaired the Central Coastal Board, was a member of the Victorian Coastal Council and President of the ABM. (Association of Bayside Municipalities) leading the development of the Boating Coastal Action Plan for Port Phillip and Western Port.

Prior to joining AECOM, Liz was the Executive Officer at the Planning Institute of Australia, and previously led the planning, building and environment policy areas at the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria), working on bushfire hazard and recovery, coastal policy, climate change, urban planning and ESD – and projects including the Coastal Adaptation Pathways project.

Planning opportunities for climate resilience in Brisbane: Learning from the city´s history of floods

Mr Tomas Brage1, Dr Paola Leardini1

1University of Queensland School of Architecture, Brisbane, Australia


South East Queensland, in Eastern Australia, is a region naturally prone to flooding.  While this intrinsic hydrologic characteristic of the area was well known to local aboriginal peoples, its urbanisation is less than two hundred years old and has proven greatly oblivious to the natural environment. In Brisbane, the capital city of the State of Queensland, the clash between natural processes of the namesake river, its numerous creeks and the sea, and the superimposed layer of the urban fabric has recurrently played out since the foundation of the colony, in 1824, with the last disastrous event occurring in 2011 at a tremendous human and material cost.  This paper analyses the nature of this difficult relationship between water as a dynamic force and the city of Brisbane as a static, yet ever expanding, presence, from a historical, geographical and social point of view.  The aim is to identify opportunities that lay dormant in this relationship since its prehistory and can be harnessed to make the future city resilient to its geographical and climatic context, by embracing urban planning and management approaches that are sensitive to, and compatible with the “deep structure” of the city and its territory.  Based on findings of this multifaceted analysis the paper recommends the application of long-term, adaptable planning that is framed according to climate cycles and climate change forecasts, a multidisciplinary, integrated way of understanding flooding, and a coordinated and transparent decision-making process that includes all institutions and stakeholders beyond individual interests.


Tomas Brage is a PhD student at the School of Architecture of the University of Queensland. He is an architect with experience in the private and public sectors in different European countries. He also holds a Msc in Water and Coastal Management. His research interests are mainly in the implications of urban planning and design for urban sustainability, especially in riverine and coastal areas.

Coastal hazard assessments in Victoria

Mr Viktor Brenners1

1Dept Of Envi. Land, Water & Planning (victoria), East Melbourne, Australia


Viktor has more than 25 years’ experience in the public and private sectors (local and international), specialising in water resource management issues, including water cycle management, floodplain management, service auditing, capacity building, strategy and policy development. Viktor currently works for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in Victoria.


The Future Coasts program was a 4 year program established in 2008 to assess the vulnerability of Victoria’s coastline to coastal hazards (inundation and erosion) under a changing climate and develop strategies to help communities and industry respond and adapt.

One of the Future Coasts assessment themes was to undertake 4 pilots coastal hazard assessments (CHAs) along different types of coast (at Port Fairy, Bellarine Peninsula-Corio Bay, Western Port, and Gippsland Lakes/90 Mile Beach) that provided a good representation of the Victorian coastline, and as such, the methods used in the CHAs could be applied to future assessments in other coastal locations. The learnings from the 4 pilot CHAs were aggregated for the next generation of CHA projects currently in the development or early implementation stage.

This paper will provide an overview of the similarities and differences in the development and outcomes of the 4 pilot CHAs, what lessons were learnt and how these learnings were aggregated and applied to the next generation of CHAs. This will include looking at technical issues, such as the complex interactions between coastal flooding and other coastal processes, as well as socio-economic issues raised by communities regarding the sensitivities of how and when the information should be used.

Camping ground, battle ground or just losing ground for coastal adaptation to climate change

Ms Anne Leitch1

1Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia


Caravan parks and camping grounds on coastal Crown land are well known for the important role they play in terms of social and economic benefits in terms of tourism, lifestyle, affordable housing options and community building.  What is often overlooked is the future of caravan parks in a changing climate.  Coastal caravan parks can be located in low lying areas that are already vulnerable to flooding, however they also play a role as areas of low intensity development that can provide a buffer zone for coastal adaptation to sea level rise. Recently, caravan parks are undergoing changes which result in their conversion to more permanent structures, either through gentrification of the park itself or a change in land use to apartment development. This paper reports on a case study of a caravan park in Brunswick Heads in northern New South Wales, Australia.  Analysis of discourse in the local news media over an eight year period describes key themes such as the changing tenure of the park from local to state government management and the park’s evolving infrastructure to include cabins and an altered foreshore. Also discussed are the themes around community engagement—and community conflict– accompanying these changes. This study is significant as it provides an example of coastal change that, if not managed effectively, will reduce potential options to respond to future climate change impacts.


Anne has a Bachelor of Science (USyd), (Hons GU) with a major in marine and coastal science, a Masters of Communication (QUT) and am about to complete a PhD (JCU) in social science looking at local government, social resilience and planning for sea level rise. I have worked in multidisciplinary research teams in Australian as well as international research projects in South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. My contribution to these projects has been developing or evaluating tools, strategies and material to support communication, and engagement for managing natural resources or adapting to climate change.

The 2017 Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project experience – Delivering an effective nourishment project through a multi-criteria framework

Mr Gildas Colleter1, Mr Shanon Hunt2

1JBP, Lvel 2, 433 Boundary Street, Spring Hill, Australia, 2City of Gold Coast, Po Box 5042 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Australia


Beach nourishment is a key adaptive strategy to address some of the effect related to Climate Change. However, beach nourishment projects are not always “successful”, particularly from an environmental and community perspective. The presentation reviews how including social and environmental values into a nourishment project can improve beach nourishment project outcomes.

During the 2017 Gold Coast Beach Nourishment Project, over 3 million cubic-meters of sand were placed over 10km of beaches, at Palm Beach and from Miami to Surfers Paradise over a short 3 months period.

The City of Gold Coast used a Framework to drive weekly sand placement instructions to the dredge which placed the sand via rainbowing and bottom dumping into the nearshore zone. The placement included both the creation of short-term sand bars and long-term nearshore coastal deposits. These new deposits eventually merged into the upper beach and increased the coastal protection value of the Gold Coast beach.

A decision-making Framework managed the preparation of the weekly sequence of placement to build the project in the most acceptable manner overall. The Framework used a wide variety of data such as bathymetric survey data, LiDAR,  surveys, track-plots, etc. The data considered also surfing crowd observations, population maps, beach assets, natural reefs as well as meteorological forecast. The Framework led to the placement to be performed in a semi-random placement sequence. This provided period of rest for the sand to be mobilized by waves, allowed surfing amenity benefits and avoided long interruptions to beach users.

Undertaking nearshore beach nourishment using offshore sand reserve was proven to be a low environmental harm and low-cost method to manage erosion. The project success also renewed community support for Beach Management.


Gildas is a  Chartered Professional coastal engineer specialised in the delivery of marine and coastal projects. Gildas has expert knowledge of coastal numerical modelling, physical modelling, ports and coasts studies and marine works design.

Over his 20-year career he had technical leading role in many internationally acclaimed coastal engineering projects including Darwin Waterfront redevelopment, the Barangaroo and Brisbane Ferry Terminals. Gildas directed the 2017 Gold Coast beach Nourishment for the City of Gold Coast.

He has developed and applied coastal research in fields such as  coral reef hydraulics, cyclonic wave-structure interactions, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), LIDAR and Laser Scanner to identify, study, design and manage climate-resilient coastal infrastructure.

Finding the middle ground: Improving accessibility of technical coastal knowledge and advice

Ms Phebe Bicknell1

1Cardno, Melbourne, Australia


There is an expectation for coastal managers and planners to use the best available data and knowledge to inform their decision making in managing, adapting and protecting our coastlines. Technical experts are regularly engaged to assist through modelling, monitoring and reporting. However, a key challenge as data type and availability increase, is finding ways to translate technical information into meaningful and beneficial applications for coastal managers and planners.

Technically sound and informative studies are potentially being underutilised due to the gap that exists between the science and practical management realities. To maximise the value in work being undertaken, it is important to find a middle ground in presenting findings and technical rigour of these analyses and the real-world application of these results.

Through numerous projects around Australia, Cardno has worked with coastal managers and planners in an effort to achieve this goal. The key steps included identifying barriers that exist in using the available information and making changes to the standard technical output to add value and improve the dissemination of results.

This paper looks to present key learnings in undertaking this process, including the importance of project scope and expectations, terminology, and use of real-world applications. The paper also puts forward some recommendations to improve the resulting product for more beneficial outcomes.


Phebe is an Environmental Engineer with particular expertise in the collection, analysis and management of metocean and environmental data. During her eight years of experience in environmental consulting she has worked in the marine and coastal space across a range of sectors including ports, oil and gas, Defence, water resources, state government and local government.

Her experience includes development of hydrodynamic, morphological and water quality models, data collection programmes, along with studies of coastal processes, climate change, sediment transport, dredge plume dispersion, outfall dispersion and vessel waves. From hard and soft engineering options to planning and strategic decisions, these analyses have been used to inform design, risk management, operational decisions, planning and management options and mitigation possibilities.

In her role at Cardno, Phebe is regularly working with local and state government and land managers to better understand the coast and develop tailored coastal management solutions.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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