Climate change

Climate change refers to a change in weather patterns because of a rise in the earth’s temperature [30592][35489]. Some of this change is natural, but some changes in climate have also been caused by human actions, such as the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) [30592]. Climate change has a negative impact on:

  • the Australian coastline (rising sea levels and potential flooding)
  • cities and other built environments
  • farming (an increase in temperature and droughts)
  • water (rainfall levels are decreasing)
  • natural ecosystems (increases in non-native species and decreases in native species)
  • health and wellbeing (increased risk of injury, disease and death due to rising temperatures)
  • extreme weather events such as floods and fires [35490].

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change [30675]. For those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in remote parts of Australia, increases in temperature will reduce the amount of bush tucker and other native foods available. For people in coastal areas, rises in sea levels may force people off their land [30592]. This is especially concerning considering the connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to their Country, and may result in poor mental health and other social issues [30675]. Extreme weather events such as cyclones and floods will affect the infrastructure in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and these communities may be cut-off from services for long periods of time [30592].

To address some of the issues associated with climate change, a process called ‘adaptation’ is being used. Adaptation refers to the practical changes that individuals and communities can make to help them manage the issues that climate change will bring, and to protect their communities [35491]. A key part of the Australian strategy on climate change is adaptation [31572]. Some of the ways communities are adapting to climate change are:

  • setting up good evacuation and early warning processes
  • upgrading and strengthening buildings
  • managing energy use
  • teaching people about the importance of staying healthy [30592].

There are also ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities can lessen some of the risks associated with climate change [30592]. These include:

  • planting trees
  • managing feral animals
  • reducing the number of bushfires by undertaking planned burning initiatives, such as the 
  • switching to renewable energy sources, like solar power [30592].


Key resources



Seven sisters by Josie Boyle

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