Riders on the storm – a decade of application of risk management principles and guidelines to coastal management in Australia

Ms Verity Rollason1, Mr Geoff Withycombe2

1BMT, Newcastle, Australia, 2BMT, Sydney, Australia


The international standard Risk Management approach (ISO 31000) has been applied to coastal management in various states throughout Australia for over a decade. The aim of this approach is to prioritise management action to mitigate defined risks. Through a risk assessment, the various issues affecting a particular coastal zone are considered and analysed in terms of their probability and consequence of impact, along with other factors such as adaptive capacity and resilience, sensitivity and vulnerability. Once the risk level is established, risk treatments are determined from the typical suite of protect, accommodate, avoid and retreat style interventions.


Adecade on, the performance of the risk management process in managing coastal issues will be investigated. The policy and management guidance, application of risk assessment, and development and application of risk treatments in NSW, QLD, WA and other states will be presented to illustrate and compare the performance of the risk management process to coastal management in Australia. The analysis will be extended to consider the applications of risk management principles and guidelines to other natural hazards, for example, flooding, bushfire and geotechnical hazards.

Recommendations for improving and evolving risk based approaches to coastal management will be provided, such as the need for detailed guidance on risk assessment in a coastal context to include population growth, and the value of a staged approach to risk management, including first pass and detailed risk assessments, scenario planning, and management action monitoring.


Verity is a Principal Coastal Scientist with BMT, with technical experience in coastal processes and geomorphology, coastal management and climate change adaptation planning. Over the last decade, Verity’s focus has been on developing and delivering risk-based  approaches to coastal management. She is passionate about planning for the future impact of climate change and population growth on coastal and estuarine systems.