On January 26, our team takes the opportunity to reflect on caring for country, allyship, and the essential role First Nations peoples play in the climate crisis.
Climate for Change acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia, whose sovereignty was never ceded. We acknowledge that Indigenous peoples around the world are at the forefront of climate change, both in experiencing its effects and leading solutions for change. We pay our sincerest respects to all Elders, past, present and emerging.
January 26 is a poignant date in the calendar for all Australians, most especially for the Traditional Owners of this stunning country.
The date marks an incredibly significant turning point for Australia - the official colonisation of Sydney Cove (known as Warrane by the Eora peoples) by Britain in 1788, when Arthur Phillip landed his ships ashore at what we now call Circular Quay.
In other words, January 26 marks Invasion Day, or Survival Day, for most First Nations peoples. It’s a dark day, a day for mourning. For non-Indigenous people, it’s a day that invites learning, recognition, and deep reflection of our country’s true history.
APPRECIATING OUR BELOVED COUNTRY
Our staff work, live and play on the lands belonging to the Wurundjeri, Woi Wurrung, Wadawurrung, Eora, Turrbal and Jagera peoples. With volunteers in every state and territory, the C4C community resides on stolen land right across Australia.
Based on the east coast of the continent, we have all personally seen and felt the devastating and often traumatic impacts of recent extreme weather events contributed to by climate change, namely flooding and bushfire in southern Queensland, coastal NSW and many parts of Victoria.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live on the front line of climate change, fighting for the protection of country and experiencing the impact of colonisation and climate change on country. First Nations organisation Seed explains that “it’s our communities on the frontline who need to be at the forefront of change; leading the solutions and building a society that is healthier, cleaner, more just and puts people before profits”, and we could not agree more.
As a climate organisation working to create the social climate in which our political leaders take effective action to stop, and ultimately reverse, global warming, we take a breath around this time each year to reflect on the critical central role First Nations individuals and organisations have played, and continue to play, in this goal and in the fight for climate justice.
Today, we invite you to look back with us on what was a pivotal year of change and progress for First Nations climate campaigners and the broader collective of Australian climate organisations in 2022.
FIRST NATIONS CLIMATE WINS IN 2022
A group named the Torres Strait Eight won a landmark victory for climate against the Australian Government in September, when the United Nations Human Rights Committee found the government is violating the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders via their inaction on climate change.
Traditional Owner and Senior Munupi Lawman Dennis Tipaklippa successfully sued the Australian government for approving a Santos gas drilling project in the Tiwi Islands. The court found that Traditional Owners, including Mr Tipaklippa, weren’t properly consulted on the project and cited grave risks to the marine environment, dreaming story tracks and animals.
Australian Traditional Owners headed to Geneva in July to ask the UN to prevent the recently approved expansion of Australia’s biggest polluter, Woodside’s North West Shelf gas project, near Karratha on the lands of the Murujuga people, WA.
A young First Nations group won a historic court case in Queensland in November, ruling that the Clive Palmer-owned Galilee Basin coal mine contributes too greatly to climate change, the environment and human rights erosion to be allowed to go ahead.
GetUp! CEO Larissa Baldwin spoke at the Charles Perkins Oration and Memorial Prize, highlighting the disproportionate impact of climate change on First Nations people and the need for self-determination following the impending Indigenous Voice to Parliament Referendum.
First Nations voices were heard at COP27 in Egypt, stating the need for their involvement in global climate discussions rather than decisions being made on their behalf.
Researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw of the Climate Council reflected during NAIDOC week on the importance of Indigenous climate leadership in Australia.
Indigenous youth climate network Seed launched major campaigns in 2022 to protect country - Don’t Frack the NT, Heal Country Declaration, and No More Hand Outs to Fossil Fuel Corporations.
LEARN ABOUT THE VOICES OF THE HEART REFERENDUM
This year, there will be a Voices of the Heart referendum to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to parliament. An indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice is a powerful way to create a fairer and more equal Australia. In this 15-20 minute course you can learn more about the referendum, why it is necessary and how you can get involved.
ORGANISATIONS YOU CAN SUPPORT
As individuals we cannot do everything, but everyone can do something. Below is a non-exhaustive list of Australian First Nations organisations and businesses you may wish to follow, join or support in 2023 and beyond.
- Pay the Rent
- National Indigenous Australians Agency
- Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
- Black Rainbow
- Koori Youth Council
- Supply Nation
- Original Power
- Firesticks Alliance
- Birthing on Country
- Children’s Ground
- Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation
- First People’s Assembly of Victoria
- Clothing the Gaps
- Minority Co
- Indigenous X
- Common Ground
- Save Our Songlines