Considerations when scoping aquatic risk management projects for coastal environments

Ms Kiara Goldsmith1

1Life Saving Victoria, Port Melbourne, Australia


When initiating aquatic risk management projects in coastal environments, project scoping can be challenging. Scoping informs the risk management process, ensuring that outcomes are relevant and achievable. The client’s desired outcomes should be the first key ideas informing the project scope.

When developing a project scope, avoiding a “cookie-cutter” risk management approach should lead to a contextually appropriate project. Investigating the variety of methods that can be used to identify and analyse risk, means that the scope can specify the most relevant methods for coastal assessments. For coastal environments this may include site inspections, a likelihood and consequence matrix to quantify risk and using information about the area’s identified beach types. Including an overview of these steps within the scope helps to clearly define the processes involved in the project.

Risk management best practice should involve the assessment of available data. As such, it is beneficial for the scope to allow for data analysis. Utilising drowning event data can be favourable in defining a baseline probability for drowning events. Availability of this data varies (due to confidentiality requirements) so project scoping should allow for the use of data available to the client. By incorporating provision for these baseline probabilities in the scope, the assessment area can later be spatially or temporally compared.

Accounting for these key elements in project scoping means that outcomes for coastal risk management projects will be relevant, achievable and contextually appropriate. This will lead to functional, quantified and justified coastal risk management action plans.


Kiara Goldsmith is the Lead Risk Assessor for Life Saving Victoria. Kiara primarily works with land managers to reduce the likelihood of aquatic activity-related death or injury in Victoria’s waterways, by conducting aquatic risk assessments. These environments have included coastal, inland and urban wetland waterways. She has also developed a method to assess aquatic risk in raingardens (storm water treatment facilities). Kiara provides recommendations to land managers for risk treatment options, quantified by her waterway and data analysis. Kiara holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours).