Macquarie University
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Examining diverse understandings of social justice in planning for sea level rise: a case study of Lake Macquarie, NSW

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:44 authored by Lana Jane Frost
How can planning for sea level rise and the option of planned retreat be undertaken in a socially just way? This research applied a social justice framework to examine planning for sea level rise in the densely populated Lake Macquarie area. The Lake Macquarie area has the highest number of dwellings vulnerable to sea level rise in NSW and local adaptation planning for sea level rise is already being undertaken. An in-depth case study was developed through document and media analysis, observations of a community planning workshop, and interviews with key informants and householders. Interviews included local and state government, community stakeholders, and people living in low-lying coastal areas which are likely to be affected by sea level rise, as well as those living in more elevated areas around Lake Macquarie. This qualitative data was analysed thematically through a social justice lens incorporating procedural and distributive justice concerns to identify: the range of understandings of what is just in planning for sea level rise; and key factors that influence perceptions of justice in planned retreat scenarios. The study concludes that there is a need for guiding principles to explicitly address social justice, these are: responsibility; beneficiary pays; redistribution and intergenerational equity.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: planning for sea level rise in the Australian context -- Chapter 2. Review of literature that explores social justice, planning for sea level rise and resettlement -- Chapter 3. Methodology : a qualitative and explorative case study -- Chapter 4. Governance : uncertainty, shifting responsibilities and mistrust -- Chapter 5. Procedural justice : recognition, participation and power -- Chapter 6. Distributional justice : valued places, moral values and retreat -- Chapter 7. Conclusion : Principles for future planning -- Bibliography -- Appendices.


Bibliography: pages 67-78 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography and Planning

Department, Centre or School

Department of Geography and Planning

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Fiona Miller


Copyright Lana Jane Frost 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




New South Wales


1 online resource (xi, 88 pages) colour illustrations, colour maps

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