Nous helps with establishment of new Great Ocean Road authority

07 April 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

In support of its protection and management overhaul for The Great Ocean Road region, the Victorian Government worked with consulting firm Nous Group to establish a new central authority.

Capturing both Australia’s famed ruggedness and vast coastal vistas, The Great Ocean Road is one of the country’s most iconic and popular destinations for local and international tourists of all stripes. Yet, with an increasing number of visitors and a complex and fragmented approach to management, concerns had been growing as to sustainable development and protections for the natural environment, prompting the Victorian Government to embark on a program of reform.

At the end of last year, that process culminated in the establishment of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA), an independent statutory body which will in time take over responsibility for all public land and coastal areas along the entire stretch of The Great Ocean Road. Previously, there were up to a dozen separate land managers spread across the region operating with differing responsibilities and priorities, making for problematic planning and program coordination.

Nous helps with establishment of new Great Ocean Road authority

To help in the design of the new authority, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning turned to management consultancy Nous Group. Through consultation, interviews, workshops, and co-design sessions, Nous worked with DELWP and a wide range of other stakeholders including local Traditional Owner groups to develop options and a proposal for the organisational structure of the new authority and its operating and funding models.

In addition, Nous crafted a transition plan outlining the sequence, processes and timing for the establishment of GORCAPA (which ultimately commenced formal operations at the beginning of December last year), including how the existing entities would be merged and how current funding mechanisms could be diversified to ensure financial sustainability over the long term – all of which was guided by what the consultancy calls its flagship ‘Organisational Architecture Framework’.

Like what remains of the Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Road’s crowning jewels, Nous’s framework features seven key pillars, the first being a question of vision and mission; why do we exist and what is our promise to key stakeholders? The pyramid-shaped framework then looks at in turn strategy, service delivery, and financials, before arriving at business processes and governance & risk and capability & capacity, structure and culture – i.e how do our people help us deliver?

In respect to that last question, GORCAPA has been designed with a skills-based board and independent chair (current appointee former Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Mears), including nominees from local indigenous organisations Wadawurrung Corporation and the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation.

Other board members bring experience in environmental conservation, governance, tourism, and planning and development – with strong links to the local community.

According to Nous Group, which was established in 1999 with its headquarters in Melbourne, the project demonstrates that “a whole-of-government response via a dedicated, central authority using place-based management is an effective way to coordinate land management,” while, especially important in projects such as this, “engagement with stakeholders that allows genuine input to the strategy, intent and operating model for a new entity is critical to gain buy-in and resolve trade-offs.”