Future change in ancient worlds: Indigenous adaptation in northern Australia

Authors: Deanne Bird, Jeanie Govan, Helen Murphy, Sharon Harwood, Katharine Haynes, Dean Carson, Stephen Russell, David King, Ed Wensing, Nicole Tsakissiris and Steven Larkin
Year: 2013

This report examines the underlying vulnerabilities, adaptive capacities and population movements of Indigenous people in four communities in northern Australia Broome in Western Australia; Maningrida and Ngukurr in the Northern Territory; and Wujal Wujal in Queensland. The study showed that each community has its own unique set of circumstances and climate change is just one of many issues confronting them. At the moment, the most crucial strategy to cope with it is to work with local people and use existing local knowledge. In addition, it was demonstrated that none of the land use planning systems in these jurisdictions use their planning legislation effectively to create disaster-resilient communities. A strong need to provide sustainable livelihoods for people to enable them to stay on country was also identified. Four research approaches were used in the project: (1) demographic history and population volatility; (2) land use planning as climate change adaptation; (3) indigenous views of change and risk; and (4) childrens understanding of weather and seasons.

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