Living change: Adaptive housing responses to climate change in the town camps of Alice Springs

Authors: Ralph Horne, Andrew Martel, Paula Arcari, Denise Foster and Audrey McCormack
Year: 2013

Since recent government-funded refurbishments and provision of new housing, Aboriginal residents in Alice Springs’ town camps have changed their heating and cooling practices to include both passive and active (reliant upon electricity) approaches. The residents use a diversity of practices for dealing with cold and hot weather indicating a good basis for adaptation to climate change locally.The residents’ adaptive capacity to a changing climate is further buffered by their previous experiences dealing with extreme weather events, that they are (at least) bilingual and bi-cultural, and that their strong Indigenous cultural ties have not prevented them from simultaneously participating in ‘mainstream’ economic and social life. Although the study identified a strong basis for adaptive capacity within the town camp commuities, the research also highlighted a need to extend the focus of housing providers beyond the delivery and preservation of the home, and to extend community education programs beyond a focus on behaviours around protecting houses and using appliances efficiently. Energy is a scarce resource in the town camps, where household incomes are low, and this scarcity is set to rise with increased climatic variation as energy is increasingly called upon to assist with adaptation.

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