Dr Maxine Newlands (BA (Hons), MA, PhD, FHEA) is a political scientist working to understand how and why environmental politics and networks of communication transform policymaking. 

Maxine is currently working with the Australian Academy of Science, in the Science Policy department. 

Maxine's previous research includes collaborations with marine scientists, government agencies, and environmental non-governmental organisations, extending to a transdisciplinary approach of knowledge brokering and co-designing communities of practice and policymakers from the environmental sectors. Her second monograph, The Environmental Politics of the Great Barrier Reef, will be published by Routledge in their Global Environmental Governance Series in 2023.

Recent research and leadership roles include

  • The Reef Restoration and Adaptation, Regulatory subprogram –co-lead (w/ UQ). We aim to help develop a robust and enabling regulatory environment for reef restoration and adaptation.
  • Qld and Fed government Scientific Consensus Statement on water quality - lead author, environmental, social science
  • Blue Humanities Lab-co-chair (with ANU)- a collaborative project around climate change and the 'blue' spaces of our world. Maxine and co-chair Claire Hansen at ANU are editing a new collection of essays on the Blue Humanities in Australia for Routledge (forthcoming 2023).
  • Women of the Reef –co-convenor. Women of the Reef is a professional network that facilitates the trade of information and the generation of long-term relationships with mutual benefits for members.
  • Environmental Policy and Media Lab – Director –The EPM Lab is a hub for emerging marine, environmental, and social policy research and development at the nexus of politics and networks of communication. If you are interested in joining the Lab or studying for a post-graduate degree, are focus areas include; marine global environmental governance and policy development, social and climate justice, political communication (including social and traditional media), and environmental social science.


Often quoted in the media, her latest political commentary can be found here. In addition, Max can be heard Wednesday and Friday on her weekly politics talk on ABC far North (Wednesday 9:30) and ABC North Queensland (Friday 08:30).


  • EV5107: International Environmental Policy and Governance (Level 5; TSV)
  • PL1001: The Political World: An Introduction to Political Science (Level 1; CNS & TSV)
  • PL2006: Political Communication in the Global Environment (Level 2; TSV)
  • PL5006: Political Communication; Ecology and Environmentalism (Level 5; TSV)
  • Executive member of the Australian Political Studies Association- Environmental Policy and Politics research group- treasurer Queensland Parliamentary Education- Member of Teacher Advisory Group member
  • Political science; Climate change adaptation and governance; Global Environmental Governance; Regulating emerging and novel technologies Decarbonisation regulation and policy design; Social and climate justice; Marine and environmental social science
  • Environmental politics and policy development Climate change policy Democracy, power and social justice Environmental political economy Political communication Social network analysis
  • 2015 to present - Research Fellow, Cairns Institute (Cairns, Qld.)
  • 2019 to 2026 - Expert member, International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) ad-hoc restoration committee (Global)
  • 2020 to 2025 - Member, Office of the Great Barrier Reef (QDES) human dimensions working group (Brisbane)
  • 2022 to 2024 - Executive member, Australian Political Studies Association: Environmental policy and politics committee (South Australia)
  • 2019 to 2022 - Management committee member, Australian Citizen Science Association (NSW / national)
  • 2018 to 2022 - Research Associate, Centre for Policy Futures (University of Queensland)
  • 2016 to 2020 - Editor (Reviews), Journal of Environmental Education (Aus.)
  • 2015 - Visiting Academic, National University of Samoa (Apia, Samoa)
  • 2010 to 2014 - Fellow, London East Research Institue (London, UK)
Research Disciplines
  • 2016 - Research Fellow- The Cairns Institute, Ciarns
  • 2014 - Overall Winner - TropECO Excellence award for Outstanding contribution to sustainability at JCU and in the wider community
  • 2019 to 2020 - Journalism Educators and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) Annual Research award
  • 2016 to 2017 - Scholarship- Australian Higher Education Sector Leadership Colloquium; Australian School of Applied Management.
  • 2014 to 2017 - 2014 Winner: Division of Tropical Environment & Societies: Three Minute Thesis Competition 2017 Runner up - ECR dtes 3 MT Competition
  • 2016 - New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant ($110,000) over two years, working with colleagues in Samoa.
  • 2018 to 2023 - Research Associate at the University of Queensland's Centre for Policy Futures
  • 2015 to 2018 - Visiting Fellow, Media and Journalism, National University of Samoa
  • 2010 to 2014 - London East Research Institute (LERI)
  • 2018 - Mentor for ECR at the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) and APSA Environmental Politics and Policy Standing Research Group.
  • 2018 to 2023 - International Political Science Association (IPSA)
  • 2018 to 2022 - Australian Coral Reef Society
  • 2018 to 2021 - Management Board Member for the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 65+ research outputs authored by Dr Maxine Newlands from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Tender

Understanding the influence of media and community narratives on Great Barrier Reef water quality management

Indicative Funding
$249,546 over 2 years
News media play a key role in communicating knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef and the risks it faces (Foxwell-Norton and Lester 2017). While media influence on community responses in contested marine protected areas has been demonstrated (Voyer et al. 2013), the multiple pathways through which media can influence outcomes for the GBR are not well understood. This project will map the GBR media landscape - the sources of mainstream and social media, the communication networks and the narratives, values and behaviours in water quality decision-making and practice that media both shape and reflect. Ultimately, the analysis will deliver practical outputs through collaboration with GBR water quality management end users.
Maxine Newlands, Tracey Mahony and Erin Bohensky (College of Arts, Society & Education, College of Business, Law & Governance and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Water Quality; Media; Governance; Social Media; Networks; behavioural

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Reef 2050 stakeholder network analysis.

Indicative Funding
$43,476 over 1 year
Applying a Small World Theory (Watts,1999; Crossley, 2008) this project will generate data for analysis that will identify within the marine and GBR space, the existing highly connected yet geographical distant networks. Small World Theory data can then be used to support adaptive management practices within RIMReP and wider Reef related agencies. The project will assess the current landscape and provide an initial interface network map to show the multilayered nature of existing stakeholders.
Maxine Newlands in collaboration with Pedro Fidelman (College of Arts, Society & Education and The University of Queensland)
Barrier Reef; Marine Parks; Human Dimension; Monitoring; Governance; Evaluation

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP) - Contract Research

Great Barrier Reef stewardship classification review

Indicative Funding
This project aims to conduct a systematic review that will led to a classification system for understanding ?stewardship? and how to evaluate outcomes of ?stewardship activities? in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Stewardship; Management; Governance; Marine Parks; Human; Etymology

Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia - Research Grant

How has journalistic practice shaped public knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef: A discourse analysis of the media clippings 2003-2018

Indicative Funding
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a national and global icon, yet only in the past five years have journalism scholars (c.f Lester and Foxwell-Norton (2018), Lankaster, Newlands, Bohenski, (2015 & 2020); Lloyd, Newlands, Petray, (2014;) begun to study the media reporting of GBR related issues. The decline of the GBR?s health in 2016/17 from back-to-back bleaching means there is a growing sense of urgency to better understand the journalistic practices of how such events and wider issues (such as mining and port expansions) frames Australia?s cultural understanding of this endangered ecosystem. This project with the digitalising of newspapers archives will benefit current and future journalism scholars and educators, add to an emerging field, and contribute towards better public understanding of what drives our understand of the GBR especially during and after catastrophic events such as bleaching.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Journalism; Barrier Reef; Governance; Marine Parks; Central Queensland; Discourse

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

Regulatory and Permitting Planning for RRAP Program

Indicative Funding
$27,000 (administered by University of Queensland)
The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program brings together Australia?s leading experts to help preserve and restore the Great Barrier Reef. RRAP is a long-term research project to investigate the best science and technology options to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, repair and recover. This project focuses on research with RRAP scientists and regulators; in regulator and policy research space.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Barrier Reef; Restoration; Governance; Regulation; Adaptation

Department of Industry - Contract Research

Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Design Phase

Indicative Funding
$286,500 over 2 years (administered by AIMS)
The RRAP Design Phase seeks to deliver a business case for government, industry and private investment, the primary objective of which is to develop reef restoration and adaptation technologies that can be applied at scale, within affordability and practicality limits, to retain key functional attributes of the Great Barrier Reef. This project will contribute JCU expertise to evaluating coral restoration methods, undertaking regulatory and institutional environment mapping required for restoration to occur and an analysis of the viewpoints and engagement of stakeholders in reef restoration.
Ian McLeod, Maxine Newlands and Stewart Lockie (TropWater, College of Arts, Society & Education and Cairns Institute)
Great Barrier Reef; Reef Restoration

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Investigating the challenges and needs of small island developing states to develop improved processes for the monitoring of fouling marine invasive species (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • When do Scientists become Advocates? The Blurred line between Science and Advocacy and the Role of Social Media (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Investigating corruption in Papua New Guinea through the patron-client structure: The citizens' perception (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Oil, Fisheries and Coastal livelihoods: A Political Ecology of Coastal Governance in Niger Delta, Nigeria (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Mobilising Communities for Reef Restoration and Stewardship (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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