Port Phillip Bay coastal hazard assessment

Dr Tamara van Polanen Petel1, Mr John Downs1, Dr Darren  James1

1Department Of Environment, Land, Water And Planning, Melbourne, Australia, 2CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia


The coastline of Port Phillip, Victoria, is home to 3.2 million people. The high density of population, infrastructure and assets in the area means that it is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The important social, economic and environmental values that we place on the coastline means that the coastal hazards of inundation, erosion and groundwater change, have the potential to affect Victorians beyond those just living and working on the coast.

The Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment project has two components:

  1. Scientific assessment, that defines the extent of land expected to be threatened by the coastal processes of inundation, erosion and groundwater change.
  2. Building the capacity of marine and coastal managers and the community to utilise and respond to the findings of the assessment.

The aim of the project is to generate information that can be used to plan for and manage current and future natural, cultural and economic assets. The project acquired and digitised a range of datasets for a decision support system. The availability and intersection of these datasets has never been available previously and will be used to set local and state government priorities.

CSIRO has completed the hazard assessment, and the Victorian Government is working in partnership with key stakeholders to ensure that the outputs are appropriate to the needs of land managers, in formats that are most useful to inform decision-making, and are suitable for a range of applications and are easily accessible.


Tamara is the project manager for the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment project. Tamara works for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in the Land and Built Environment Branch.  She has a PhD in marine biology and joined the department in 2013. She has worked in Biosecurity, Waterway Health and now is in the coastal programs team in the Port Phillip Region.

Darren is the Senior Technical Advisor – Coasts and Marine Statewide at the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning.  In his state-wide role he is never short of a challenge whether it’s providing advice on a beach renourishment, climate change, or coastal protection. Darren is currently working on several projects including the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment.  It was growing up on the Mornington Peninsula where his deep affection and understanding of the coast started. Darren has a double degree of science and engineering and a doctorate of philosophy. He has 20 years of experience as a professional engineer, and is a member of the National Committee on Coastal and Ocean Engineering for Engineers Australia.

Darren is passionate about addressing the future challenges that we face on the coast, particularly how we manage and live on the coast.