National residents

Project summary

This project initiated a long-term monitoring program to document Australian perceptions about the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A nationally representative online survey of more than 2,000 Australian residents explored individual attitudes about four key areas: inspiration, visitation, attitudes and perceptions of threats.

Why the research is needed

Increasing threats to the GBR have placed considerable importance on the creation of viable management and conservation outputs. In response, decision makers increasing rely upon public consultation to help inform decision-making. Critical to driving the prioritization and implementation of resource management plans is the identification of key drivers of change. Indirect drivers of change such as perceptions, attitudes and beliefs provide an important context for understanding individual behaviour, informing management programs and influencing environmental decision-making.

Key research findings

This project finds that Australians are overwhelmingly concerned about and connected to the GBR. We find the GBR to be Australia’s most inspiring natural or cultural icon. Further, a strong majority of respondents want to visit the GBR in the future (~50%) or have done so already (~40%). Respondents believe climate change and pollution are the biggest threats to the GBR, followed by marine debris, agricultural run-off and shipping. Most people are proud the GBR is listed as a World Heritage Site and they also feel a collective responsibility to protect it. Respondents believe the GBR is part of their Australian identity and they are concerned about the impacts of climate change. Approximately half of respondents are confident that the GBR is well managed and a minority feel strongly optimistic about the future of the GBR.


Link to 1pp factsheet:


Link to 2013 technical report:


2014 technical report coming soon!