Aboriginal reconnections: Understanding coastal urban and peri-urban Indigenous people's vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change

Darryl Low Choy, Philip Clarke, David Jones, Silvia Serrao-Neumann, Robert Hales and Olivia Koschade

This study, consisting of a literature review and workshops, found that maintaining the cultural connections of Indigenous people to Aboriginal sites could improve adaptive capacity, not only for climate change adaptation, but also in the context of other cultural, social and economic issues. The impacts of peri-urban expansion on Indigenous people have been twofold - both physical and cultural in nature. Peri-urban expansion has led to a deterioration of the natural physical environment, including land and water resources, as well as encroaching on Aboriginal cultural sites. Plants and animals making up the wild food network are important economically, yet also have cultural importance in contemporary identity building for urban and peri-urban Aboriginal people. Due to ongoing historical disadvantage, socio-economic issues tend to override climate change adaptation considerations. The expansion of urban and peri-urban aboriginal communities have also demonstrated a decline in Aboriginal language speakers. As Aboriginal language and words hold certain commonalities that have within them appraisals of longitudinal environmental patterns and changes, the opportunity to study urban and peri-urban Indigenous peoples' understanding of climate change through these mediums will be seriously constrained through the decline in these language speakers. Many of the climate change adaptation challenges can be overcome through collaborative approaches, especially those that build in traditional knowledge so that it does not undermine cultural identity. At the time of this study, specific Indigenous climate change adaptation policy was absent in government policies and strategies, and Indigenous representation in government climate change adaptation policy forums was poor - signalling a need for a specific Indigenous voice in climate change adaptation discussions at the state and national levels.

Resource Type: 
Case studies
Research report
Australia Wide
Biodiversity, natural resources
Local government

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