SIA & Community Engagement Specialist
Dr Sheridan Coakes

stripAs Director of Coakes Consulting – a boutique social impact and community engagement consultancy that has operated in Australia over the past 15 years – Sherie has unprecedented experience in the development and implementation of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) programs, management of social impacts and community engagement programs associated with planned change in both urban and rural communities across Australia.

In 1997, Sherie established Coakes Consulting, a specialist social consultancy developed to address social and community issues within a resource management context. The company developed largely out of a need for companies and agencies to address social and economic issues and concerns in project and policy development planning; and followed on from Sherie’s role with the Commonwealth Government in designing and implementing the social impact assessment methodology for the Australian Regional Forest Agreement Process during the 1990’s – one of the most significant applications of social impact assessment by government at a national level.

Over the past 15 years, she has developed a sound reputation as a social impact assessment and community engagement practitioner and specialist through her work with both clients and stakeholders from government, industry and community at local, regional and national levels; and through her participation in further developing the SIA agenda and practice both nationally and internationally.


Since establishing her national business in the late 1990’s, Sherie has developed and refined a unique approach to SIA  practice that has been applied in numerous large scale and controversial public and private sector projects, within the areas of:

  • Fisheries
  • Human and urban service planning
  • Viticulture
  • Dairy deregulation
  • Water resource management
  • Agriculture
  • Biotechnology
  • Linear and key infrastructure developments
  • Quarrying and sand mining
  • On-shore and off-shore oil and gas
  • Open cut and underground mining – e.g. coal, iron ore, bauxite, uranium
  • Waste management
  • Carbon, capture and storage (CCS).

With an impressive client list to her name, that includes companies such as Chevron, BHP Billiton, Xstrata/Glencore, Rio Tinto, Inpex, Woodside; Sherie has created practical and effective approaches in the key areas of:

  • Social and economic impact assessment (SEIA)
  • Health impact assessment (HIA)
  • Social impact management
  • Community engagement
  • Social performance indicator development, evaluation and monitoring
  • Social investment planning
  • Outrage management
  • Community Visioning, Needs and Infrastructure Assessment
  • Community perception and attitude surveys
  • Program/Project evaluation

With a strong methodological background in the social sciences – both quantitative and qualitative – she is able to develop approaches that enable the effective collection, analysis, interpretation and use of social and community data to effectively inform program/project and operational planning, assessment and decision making at all stages of a project/operations lifecycle from inception through to closure. Her work with government has also seen the development of unique approaches in considering social issues and impacts within natural resource management and planning. A snapshot of her extensive client and project experience is summarised here.

As a recognised thought leader, Sherie has also published and presented papers and seminars on social impact assessment and community involvement, in a variety of different forums; contributing to four international texts on Social Assessment and engagement practice. She is also the principal author of the statistical text ‘Analysis without Anguish, published by John Wiley, which is commonly used by university students, enrolled in research methods courses across business, health, social and environmental science disciplines.

In 2006, Sherie was one of two WA finalists in the Telstra Business Women’s ‘Australian Government Business Innovation Award’ designed to recognise women who are using innovation to commercialise new products and services.


With a passion for social and procedural justice and facilitating positive change, Sherie is a strong advocate for effective social impact assessment, community involvement and engagement in project/policy development; planning and decision making; believing that ‘putting people in the picture’ results in better outcomes for all parties – industry, government and community.