The coast is where it all comes together. Along many Australian shorelines, you’ll find a diverse range of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and aquatic life, all trying to live in harmony.
Among those mammals are all kinds of humans – scientists, policymakers, First Nations communities and environmental consultants like the WolfPeak team.
One such team member with a special interest in coastal management is Carla Sbrocchi – our Senior Government Advisory Consultant and regular attendee at the NSW Coastal Conference.
As a leader of our Government & Strategic Advisory (GSA) team with a decade of experience, Carla has shared her experience at the Conference and explained why it’s so important to connect with communities, the environment, and fellow coastal experts…
Q: What does the GSA team do?
We support clients – usually government and community organisations – with designing and delivering important programs with a focus on ‘public good’. The design might involve establishing the goals of a program and the activities involved.
These are generally funded by taxpayers’ money, so we want to make sure we’re always delivering good outcomes.
Q: Can you give us an example?
Everything is big picture, such as the NSW Reconstruction Authority (NSWRA) which is trying to deliver a housing program to get people living in flood zones out of harm’s way.
Our work with the NSWRA involved supporting them to develop the strategy and roll-out of the program, focusing on improved resilience of homes and human safety in high flood-risk areas.
Q: It sounds like collaboration is key for GSA...
For sure – they’re usually really collaborative projects. We’re rarely the only party involved. Say, for example, we’re helping government work out how their teams can operate. We mentor and guide them to understand how each team and team member can work most effectively. We try not to internalise it, instead we work with the client and sit within their team.
This area of WolfPeak is less about discrete pieces of work, and it’s more about working closely and collaboratively with a number of agencies. We’re effectively one of them, but we just bring a highly targeted set of skills that can help with specific programs.
Q: So which projects are you most proud of?
We specialise in complex projects such as disaster relief, coastal management, and Aboriginal land councils. Naturally, they’re not issues that can be solved in one project. They’re big issues and sometimes people just aren’t sure what the next step is. They might feel overwhelmed by the complexity of it, so we can come in and clear the cobwebs.
We love being able to figure out the heart of the problem and how the client can get over the hump to find a solution.
Q: Tell us about the Coastal Conference...
Normally, there is a state-based NSW Coastal Conference and a separate National Coast to Coast Conference. But this year in Newcastle, both events came together! There was roughly 250 people from a range of fields all with a special interest in coastal management.
It always has a really practical and pragmatic focus which I enjoy, and most people know each other at this point so it’s a good opportunity to catch up and learn what others have been doing in the space.
It’s particularly important because as our coasts, climate and communities are changing, we need to leverage what others are doing elsewhere and apply it to our own contexts.
It’s an amazing opportunity from a professional point of view because you get to know people over the years. You develop these relationships to learn what they’re doing, what’s working or not, and you can feel comfortable sharing that with each other.
Q: How does the Conference improve your ability to help clients?
I want to be part of the solution to help communities change to live with this new normal. I’m really interested in hearing what organisations and governments are doing and how research is helping communities to transform and adapt effectively.
I’m interested in how we can engage different communities effectively, and the techniques that work in talking with the community about change. Learning about all this through the Conference has better prepared me to work with clients in this area.
Q: How do you see this space developing in the future?
People are increasingly concerned that the programs they’re running aren’t hitting the mark – that the status quo isn’t good enough anymore. They’re looking for unique solutions to unique problems and WolfPeak hopes to deliver these going forward.
We’re aware of a few changes across Government departments in 2024 and so we’ve helped people to understand how to make these changes work with their processes and priorities.
The other big trend is preparing for a higher rate of natural disasters as the effects of climate change increase. We’ve been really active in bushfire, flood and coastal management, helping clients to develop strategies for assistance, funding and recovery.