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All over the globe, indigenous peoples are uniquely equipped for dealing with the climate crisis

All over the globe, indigenous peoples are uniquely equipped for dealing with the climate crisis

People hold the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags while protesting.

Climate change is a pressing issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, as well as other First Nation peoples around the world. First Nations people will be most affected and are already experiencingClimate change presents existential threats

The unfolding disasterThere are many instances in New South Wales where the Northern Rivers region is not unusual, with Aboriginal communities being completely cut off from vital supplies or inundated.

Torres Strait Islander, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander communities have protected Country for millennia. They have also survived dramatic climate shifts. We are closely connected to Country and our cultural practices and knowledge can help solve the climate crisis. Despite this, our leadership roles in climate solutions discussions are still being excluded, as shown by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC).

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Why the Australian government must listen and learn from Torres Strait leaders regarding climate change

This exclusion is why it is necessary to investigate the impact of climate change upon First Nations people.

The following was the October 2012 edition Lowitja InstituteIn partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Health Leadership ForumThe Climate and Health AllianceThe round-table discussion brought together advocates, young people, and community members from across the country.

They compiled the findings for the Discussion paper together. Climate change and Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander health.

Continue reading:
Indigenous voices are still not included in the IPCC reports. Join us at sacred fires to discover the answers to climate change

How climate change affects Indigenous people

Climate change is threatening our social, cultural and economic determinants of health.

Aboriginal health servicesExtreme weather is a growing problem for many, as are increasing demands and a shrinking workforce. All of these factors combine to increase already unacceptable levels of health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and compound the historical as well as contemporary injustices of colonisation.

We heard from communities at the frontlines of climate change through powerful and moving stories during the roundtable.

Norman Frank Jupurrurla, a Tennant Creek community leader, spoke of sacred waterholes being dried up, ancient shade tree dying, rising temperatures and inadequate housing. He also mentioned the loss of power and the spoilage essential food and medicines.

Vanessa Napaltjarri Davis is a Warlpiri/Northern Arrente woman, and Senior Researcher at Tangentyere Council in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, spoke of changes to the availability of bush foods and medicines – essential to our health and well-being – due to changing temperatures and seasons.

Norman Frank Jupurrurla was one example:

…now the Country is on fireClimate change is causing a lot of destruction. Already, I can’t see the sand goannas anymore.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have a deep and painful understanding of the role that dominant culture, racism, and colonial power dynamics play in climate change. Although there have been many suggestions for solutions to climate changes, they are not available to all Australians.

Norman Frank Jupurrurla proved this when he shared the seemingly impossible-to-follow process he used to become the first person in the world to do so. Install solar panelsOn public housing in Tennant Creek Northern Territory.

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First Nations campaigns against the fossil-fuel industry are a good example of what climate activists can learn from them

Indigenous peoples’ voices excluded from climate change conversations

Colonization has ignored Indigenous ways to know, do, and be, down to the weather. Colonisers insist that we live according only to four seasons and not the entire year. Many seasonsOur people were respected and knew them.

This marginalization continues today, where we are not included in national or international conversations about climate changes. COP26.

In its global assessment, the IPCC acknowledged this fact. Report from last year. The report states that most climate change reporting and data do not include this information. Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginalor local knowledge in the assessment findings.

The IPCC’s most recent report looks to recognise this omission and focuses specifically on the importance of our role and knowledge in addressing the climate crisis and the Climate justice is needed.

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We need to design housing that can withstand climate change impacts for Indigenous communities.

Our work is clear. We must raise the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in climate change action, and place Torres Strait Islander peoples at the forefront of protecting Country. According to Seed Mob, “We cannot have climate justice without First Nations justice.”

We must look at how colonial ideologies, practices and climate change impacts on our peoples when we seek solutions. As Rhys Jones wrote, “It is not possible to understand and address Climate-related impacts on health for Indigenous peoples without examining this broader context of colonial oppression, marginalisation and dispossession.”

People hold the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags while protesting.
Protest by students against the climate in Melbourne

The Uluru Statement From the HeartThe Australian People are grateful for the gift of ‘The Roadmap to Action’.

  • We must correct power imbalances, establish co-governance arrangements, and be strong advocates of not only our interests but also our ability to tackle climate change.

  • We must restore access to basic rights that will lay the groundwork for action that includes appropriate community participation/decision-making and incorporates cultural, environmental and sustainable design.

  • We must weave our knowledges and strengthen partnerships to ensure that our collective wisdom and knowledge as Australia’s First Nations is integrated into climate adaptation and mitigation planning, directly benefitting the whole nation.

Indigenous people know about this continent; we’ve looked after it for millennia.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart gives the opportunity to restore that ancient power – for the benefit of us all and the survival of the planet.

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