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Ellen Witte

Principal and Partner
BSocSc(Geo), MA International Eco and Geo
+61 421 372 940

Ellen is a Principal and Partner at SGS who has worked across Australia and internationally. She holds qualifications in international economics and economic geography. Prior to joining SGS, Ellen worked as a consultant in the Netherlands where she gained experience in areas including health care economics, environmental economics and knowledge economy. Lately, Ellen has worked at length on numerous business cases examining amalgamation options for local governments and other reform options.

Ellen has extensive experience undertaking social, environmental and economic impact assessments, and financial feasibility studies. She is an expert in examining the economics of affordable housing, cost benefit analyses and strategic assessments of facilities and land use projects. Ellen has skills in strategic policy advice and governance, including strategic planning, business case development and funding arrangements. Other key capabilities are strategic communication, workshop facilitation and consultation.

Ellen was extensively involved in the Tasmanian Climate Adaptation Pathways projects undertaken for the Tasmanian Climate Change Office and local government authorities. The projects assisted communities to effectively manage the risks expected from climate change, specifically sea level rise and erosion. For each study area different pathways of adaptation, ranging from ‘early retreat’ to ‘protect at all cost’ were explored with the local communities to enhance their ability to understand, comprehend and plan for projected changes. A better understanding of the issues and possible responses will help the community to make informed decisions.. The projects were unique in regard to the transparency and engagement of the community. This success has ensured the approach was rolled-out in more local communities.

Ellen wrote and presented at a conference, two papers on governance and decision making, and on community engagement for coastal adaptation. Adaptation to climate change is increasingly being addressed by local governments, regions and some States. A better understanding of governance arrangements, roles and responsibilities and decision making frameworks are required to effectively plan for projected changes and sometimes uncertain impacts. Due to our experience and understanding of governance, SGS is at the forefront of discussions around governance, decision making and communication.

Ellen has undertaken strategic plans for various councils, including preparing the strategic plans for Hobart City Council for 2014-2019. The process involved extensive consultation with the executive leadership team, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, management, staff and the community. Her approach takes into account community, stakeholders, Council and staff views and aspirations while meeting the legislative obligations of local government. Strategic plans for Councils are important guides for decision making and operations of municipalities. The effectiveness of these plans depends on the commitment of all staff, management and Elected Members. Engagement and consultation in the planning process is eminent to ensure the strategic plan is a plan for council and by council, and all team members recognise how they contribute to the strategy.

Over the past five years, Ellen has undertaken several consultancies to plan for aged care facilities and seniors living options. Firstly, market research and assessment was undertaken to inform decision making on aged care investment options for the Nursing Home. Then a review of demand and price assumptions for a long term nursing home expansion, and for the construction and staging of Independent Living Units was conducted. She has undertaken market research to explore opportunities for diversification from nursing home activities (including home care packages, community care services and retirement village options). Ellen has also undertaken financial feasibility analyses (both preliminary and detailed) for existing aged care providers and the development sector.

SGS has undertaken many strategic land use planning projects. In recent years, Ellen led industrial land strategies for over half of Tasmania. The Southern Tasmania Industrial Land Strategy has been endorsed by all twelve local governments and is now used in planning hearings and tribunals to guide planning decisions for industrial land. Most recently, she undertook the Northern Tasmanian Industrial Land Strategy. This strategy will guide planning decisions for industrial land in the eight municipalities in Northern Tasmania.