Future sea changes: Indigenous women’s preferences for adaptation to climate change on South Goulburn Island, NT (Australia)

Future sea changes: Indigenous women’s preferences for adaptation to climate change on South Goulburn Island, NT (Australia)

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsPetheram, L, Stacey, N, Fleming, A
JournalClimate and Development
Keywordsadaptation, climate change, coastal, Indigenous, women

Research on South Goulburn Island aimed to improve understanding of Indigenous perspectives on climate change and options for adaptation within the scope of the local coastal and marine environment and resources utilised by the community. Workshops and interviews with participants emphasised the use of participatory, visual techniques to encourage discussion and visioning of the future.
Participants indicated very limited understanding of western concepts and English language terms associated with climate change and why change was occurring. People thought climate change was a phenomenon occurring elsewhere in the world. However, in deeper conversations, many reported observing unusual patterns of environmental change they could not explain by other means. These observations, combined with changes in customary practices and loss of local knowledge in recent years, worried participants, particularly the elderly. The idea that climate change was resulting from human impacts on the environment was an easy concept for most participants to grasp. The demonstrated worldviews of participants was dominated by social and cultural links to the past and present, but had weaker linkages to western concepts of ‘the future’. Thus, discussions around planning adaptation did not generally fit easily into peoples’ framings of their worlds. People’s preferences for adaptation concerned: building general community capacity, drawing from customary knowledge, being more involved in decision-making, and learning more about scientific knowledge relating to climate change. Enabling collection of plant and animal foods and associated interaction with the landscape was also considered important to improving community independence, resilience and wellbeing for adaptation.


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