Extreme heat and climate change: Adaptation in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities

Authors: Alana Hansen, Peng Bi, Arthur Saniotis, Monika Nitschke, Jill Benson, Yan Tan, Val Smyth, Leigh Wilson and Gil-Soo Han
Year: 2013

Certain cultural, socioeconomic and linguistic factors can affect the vulnerability of particular individuals to climate change. This project studied culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and their capacity to adapt to climate change and extreme heat in particular. Subgroups within CALD communities that did not cope well with Australia’s extreme heat included: older migrants and new arrivals, people in new and emerging communities, and low income migrants who lacked English proficiency skills.The needs of many were unmet in terms of knowledge about harm minimisation strategies during extreme heat. Other factors that contributed to vulnerability included socioeconomic disadvantage, linguistic barriers, poor quality housing and cultural issues. To facilitate climate change adaptation for the broader population and minimise potential heat health disparities, there needs to be equity in access to resources that can aid in building resilience. This will require a suite of communication tools to cater forAustralias growing number of residents with diverse cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds. The social capital existing within networks and the high adaptive capacity of migrants are enablers in the adaptation process. Promoting further social connectedness will also facilitate a more inclusive approach to climate change adaptation.

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