Townsville Community Panel

on Novel Reef Interventions in the GBR

Townsville Community Panel

One of the core activities of the RRAP is the formation of geographically based community panels to explore and discuss novel reef interventions.

The first panel has been formed for community members in the Townsville, Hinchinbrook or Burdekin Local Government Areas. This panel is known as the Townsville Community Panel and its focus includes novel reef interventions such as marine cloud brightening, coral restoration and other potential approaches being explored.

Expressions of interest to join the panel are now closed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is the RRAP setting up community panels?

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world’s largest living structure and one of the seven wonders of the world. While it remains a vibrant ecosystem of great natural resilience and beauty, warming oceans are causing more frequent and serious bleaching events, which can kill coral. Alongside efforts to reduce emissions and continued best-practice reef management, new interventions are likely to be needed to sustain the Reef.


The RRAP brings together Australia’s leading experts to help design innovative new ways to help the GBR resist, adapt to and recover from the impacts of climate change and other threats. It is important these interventions are safe and aligned with the diverse values and interests of those living in and connected to the GBR region. All new interventions are also required to go through the normal regulatory permitting process of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 


Understanding what is important to the community and future generations helps the RRAP understand and respond to potential environmental, social and technological challenges. Community panels are a way of examining these new interventions through a deeper and longer-term discussion with members of the community and bringing community priorities and aspirations to the future of reef management.

Q: What is the community panel aiming to achieve?

Establishing community panels is one way of running a ‘deliberative’ engagement. Community panels provide opportunities for the public to explore and engage with the science behind the interventions and options for using those interventions in the marine park. These discussions will be part of guidance that is provided to the RRAP on benefits and risks.


Panels offer one avenue by which diverse members of the Australian public (i.e. local community residents with diverse perspectives) can share their knowledge, experiences, opinions, and suggestions as part of a two-way exchange with scientists and research teams working on the interventions


One of the roles of the RRAP governance bodies will be to integrate the feedback from the panels as well as from other engagement activities used in the RRAP, to make informed decisions about program strategy, investments, and delivery options.

Q: What commitment is expected of panellists?

The Townsville Community Panel will be formed in 2022. The panel members will work together over an 18-month period to discuss novel reef interventions such as marine cloud brightening, coral restoration and other potential approaches being explored.

Involvement will largely be comprised of participation in up to 5 interactive one-day workshops, and one-on-one interviews conducted at 3 points during the 18-month period with the panel facilitator and CSIRO staff.

Workshop dates are yet to be set and may occur on weekdays and/or Saturdays.

Q: How is the panel selected?
An open Expressions of Interest (EoI) process is being held inviting all residents that live in the Townsville, Hinchinbrook or Burdekin Local Government Areas to register to be considered. To register interest, you need to complete a short online application form and answer a few questions to support our aim in achieving a diverse representation of inputs

The EoI process will be managed by CSIRO. Panel members will be selected on the basis of their answers to the EoI questions. The process will strive for a diverse representation of the Townsville, Hinchinbrook, and Burdekin region community.
Q: How else can the broader community be involved?

If you’re not selected for the community panel, there are a number of other ways to take part in consultation about the management of the GBR, which may include other community engagement activities in RRAP. These activities include other research projects involving stakeholders and Traditional Owners that are part of the RRAP. 

To ensure a diverse range of perspectives and voices are heard and included in the process, targeted discussions may also be sought from some groups that are usually less likely to participate in a formal survey or submission process.

Q: Will panel members be paid?
In return for their contribution to the panel, a nominal payment/incentive such as a gift card will be offered for participation in each full day workshop. Where agreed in advance, reasonable travel and accommodation costs may also be reimbursed upon the provision of receipts. Food and beverages are included.

It is recognised that panel members may have personal commitments and changes in circumstances, and we will try to accommodate these where possible when scheduling workshops and other engagements.
Q: What will happen with the panel’s input?
At the conclusion of the period, the panel’s input will be used to produce a de-identified report that provides a record of what happened in each panel whilst maintaining the confidentiality of individual participant contributions.

The report should be made available on the RRAP website (we will not identify panel members in any public document without their express written permission) and made available to the RRAP Board and Steering Committee.

All input and ideas are likely to be collated into a wider engagement report for the RRAP. There may also be an opportunity for panel members to present the outcomes of their deliberation to a regional or RRAP conference in Townsville, Cairns or similar location.

Regular communication will be maintained with the panel during the process, including to advise where their recommendations might usefully inform other processes in the RRAP.
Q: Who will facilitate the process?
The delivery of community panels is being developed and coordinated by CSIRO on behalf of the RRAP. CSIRO researchers will be present at all panels.

An independent facilitator will also be appointed by CSIRO and their role will be to support the panel in their discussions, which will take a flexible action learning approach, as well as build relationships with participants for the duration of these engagements.
Q: Who is eligible to join?

Anyone 18 years and older living in the Townsville, Hinchinbrook or Burdekin Local Government Areas.

Q: How is my personal information used and stored?

Personal information provided by applicants and selected panel members is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with this Act and the National Health and Medical Research Council National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007, updated 2018).

Your personal information, including your name, contact details, and opinions shared in panel meetings and any responses collected in interviews will be collected for the purpose of the project and related scientific research.

CSIRO may also collect your sensitive information, including your image, if you consent to having your photograph taken, for the purposes outlined above.

CSIRO may disclose your personal information to third parties for purposes necessary for or related to the project where it engages with them, or uses their services or products, to facilitate the project. This may include an external facilitator, contracted third-party transcription provider, communications platform and other participants present at panel meetings.

While CSIRO does not intend to disclose your personal information overseas, it is possible that some incidental overseas disclosure of your personal information may occur during the conduct of an online meeting or through ordinary email correspondence (particularly if you, another participant or a service provider are located overseas). By participating in this study and providing us with your personal information, you understand that any of your personal information disclosed overseas will not be subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act.

It is intended that the information obtained through the panel meetings and interviews will be de-identified and published and/or presented in a variety of forums. This includes the production of a final publicly available report, as well as scientific journal publications, factsheets, media releases and conference presentations.

The CSIRO Privacy Policy, available at, outlines how your personal information will be handled, including details about how you can seek access or correction of the personal information we hold about you, how you can lodge a complaint about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and how CSIRO will deal with the complaint. If you require further information on how your personal information will be handled, please contact