Who are we: historical insights into the history of the coastal professional in Australia

Miss Naomi Edwards1

1Griffith University , Gold Coast, Australia


To understand the complex and dynamic space that coastal management has become, we must first understand the nexus of the coastal professional and institutions responsible for coastal management.  There is a wealth of knowledge about coastal systems, institutions and policy, yet the coastal professional, as a professional product of historical themes and events, remains unknown. This paper presents an innovative way of constructing a critical historical inquiry into the emergence of the coastal professional in Australia through the theoretical lens of environmental sociology. Environmental sociology has the ability to connect societal pressures and political contexts for policy change to explain continuous conflicting frameworks, which coastal management and the coastal professional are expected and conditioned to negotiate. Similarly, it offers insights into the importance of the environmental movement in the development of responsible environmental citizenship, and how this translates to inspire and inform coastal professionals. By virtue of this intimate engagement with the discourses of the coastal professional and coastal management, this paper discusses new ways of conceptualising the coastal professional and the role that these professionals play in international and national policy trends. Thus, this paper will offer stimulus for a serious conversation about the intricate yet implicit processes that result in how “the coastal professional” has become a professional product of coastal management and what that means for the future directions in creating more robust coastal management.


Naomi Edwards is a disrupter of institutions. Her honest opinions have inspired thought provoking conversations on how to re-think ways we tackle wicked problems.

Having found herself being deeply caught inside the web of decision-making circles and institutional networks responsible for coastal and natural resource management, it’s of no surprise that she is currently researching a Phd about the nexus of the coastal professional and institutions responsible for coastal management at Griffith University. She is a leader for sustainability fellow from the United Nations University, and in 2016 was awarded as a National Young Landcare champion and ambassador for her commitment to social and environmental justice.

She is highly regarded for multiple award-winning coastal and natural resource management initiatives that engage the community in different ways. Her most recent transformational engagement adventure is Intrepid Landcare, a national organisation that connects and inspires young people to act and lead with Landcare.


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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