In profile: Anne Maree Kreller, Scientia PhD candidate

Anne Maree Kreller is a Scientia PhD candidate in the UNSW School of Social Sciences with a strong interest in social movements. She completed a Bachelor of Social Research and Policy (First Class Honours) at UNSW in 2016 and is now completing her PhD on the role of conflict and negotiation in fair and collaborative adaptation to sea-level rise.

Anne Maree believes that the ‘black summer’ of 2019-2020 revealed the importance of climate mitigation and adaptation to Australians. With sea-level rise a major climate change impact that must be addressed, Anne Maree is undertaking a case study situated in the Central Coast Council area to understand conflict and negotiation over sea-level rise adaptation.Anne Maree Kreller presents her findings at the NSW Coastal Conference

“Sea-level rise is a major issue for Australians because 85% of the population lives on the coast; coastal areas are where people live and play,” says Anne Maree.

“Coastal areas are an important part of our psyche, but they also hold immense wealth through property. Adaptation to sea-level rise brings conflict between interests to the forefront in decision-making.”

During her Honours research, Anne Maree researched the topic of fair adaptation to sea-level rise in the setting of Botany Bay. She surveyed people living and working around Botany Bay to find out what they value about their area, their sea-level rise beliefs, and their views of fair policy. She then analysed the results to create four 'typologies'—or different groups of people—which would enable Bayside Council to communicate with and engage people in sea-level rise policy.

When refining the topic for her PhD, Anne Maree decided to look at sea-level rise adaptation from a slightly different perspective.

“When it came to doing a PhD, I had the option of undertaking fair and collaborative sea-level rise adaptation. As I had addressed the topic before I had to find something of interest to me, and that’s when I decided to take a new approach,” said Anne Maree.

She chose to engage with activists, people involved in social movements and organisations in the Central Coast area during consultation for the Draft Climate Change Policy—a Central Coast Council initiative that sets guiding principles and broad actions for the region’s climate change response.

The first stage of Anne Maree’s policy analysis focused on gaining an understanding of the spaces available for negotiation. During the next phase, she conducted qualitative interviews with council staff, community organisations, property interests, climate activists, and coastal educators to explore the nature of conflict.

Anne Maree’s goal is to find opportunities for collaborative sea-level rise adaptation.

“When my PhD is complete I aim to present my results to the community. From my findings and recommendations, I hope my research will have application for local councils—both in the Central Coast and in other coastal areas,” said Anne Maree.

As a mature age student, Anne Maree says UNSW has given her opportunities, support and experiences that she would not have received elsewhere.

“I’ve been at UNSW on and off since 2004 and the people at UNSW are what I enjoy most. The network of students, PhD candidates, teachers, and mentors – all of these make a university,” says Anne Maree.

Campus culture has changed a lot this year because of COVID-19, but for me the camaraderie has continued online

Anne Maree Kreller, Scientia PhD Candidate

“Campus culture has changed a lot this year because of COVID-19, but for me the camaraderie has continued online.”

Due to the recent dramatic transformation in Australian universities, Anne Maree says it’s hard to envision what the future might hold.

“While I’m still here, my Scientia scholarship gives me the opportunity to extend communication and engagement skills, which I feel is beneficial for me and the broader community, particularly about climate change. In the future, I hope to continue the conversation about the issues facing coastal areas, with communities and policymakers,” says Anne Maree.

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