Dr Middle was the lead researcher and author of a study into the the values and character of coastal communities in Australia. The National Sea Change Taskforce initiated this project in collaboration with Dr Middle and Curtin University.

Below is a quick summary of the research. I've provided more information in the Education & Learning section of this website. Click here to go to that page.

Many of Australia’s coastal communities face unprecedented changes caused by both rapid population growth and increased coastal erosion because of climate change induced sea level rise and increased storm activity. Communities are likely to resist those changes that most impact on the existing coastal values and character. Put a different way, communities are more likely to accept changes that acknowledge, respect and are consistent with existing coastal values and character.

The aim of the study was to develop a methodology and planning tool to capture and document coastal values and character in coastal communities, and to trial the methodology in four case study coastal communities. These case studies were:

  • Shoalwater, City of Rockingham, WA
  • Australind, Shire of Harvey, WA
  • Flinders Bay, Shire of Augusta and Margaret River, WA
  • Falcon, City of Mandurah, WA

The methodology involved two key data sources. First, a survey of beach users was carried out seeking information on the purposes and duration of beach visits, how the beach was valued, views on development at the beach, and some basic demographic information. Second, an inovative visual research methodology called photo-elicitation was applied, where photographs of typical landscapes, both built and natural, of the settlement were shown to participants to help identify the existing character of the area.

A report was produced for each community, as well as a report that summarised the overall findings of the study.