Scholars argue that conventional environmental governance approaches have not been effective in reversing or slowing the deterioration of coupled social-ecological systems (SESs). Recent research suggests that resilience thinking offers a useful framework to analyse problems in SESs and could help improve the effectiveness of associated governance systems. Much of the available literature explores this from a theoretical perspective, identifying advantages from resilience thinking to improve governance of SESs. This paper builds on this literature, creating a set of attributes that are used to assess the specific challenges of a particular multi-level Tasmanian coastal governance context, and thus clarify where intervention responses are best directed. In this context, a low level of resilience capacity was apparent across the entire governance system. At the national level, we determined that knowledge management and sharing processes, and the diversity of expertise were the only attributes contributing to resilience capacity, with other attributes insufficiently developed to support any level of resilience. The performance was similarly poor at the Tasmanian state level, with leadership, adaptive planning, organisational flexibility and a supportive legislation framework at critically low capacity. Inter-organisational attributes also required significant improvement. On the other hand, a regional natural resource management body and two coastal local governments demonstrated attributes supportive of resilience capacity, including aspects related to leadership, transparent decision-making, stakeholder engagement, organisational learning, knowledge sharing and flexibility. These findings confirm that resilience thinking can offer practical suggestions for how to improve governance of this, particularly challenging context.