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Identifying the health impacts of climate change, adaption strategies and responses among Aboriginal communities in NSW

19 May, 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Zoom Meeting
Tara Bayles
6621 1113



This seminar is presented via Zoom, to register to attend please click here –



Ms Jessica Spencer is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Central West New South Wales and is an Environmental Health Project Officer at the Aboriginal Environmental Health unit of NSW Health.  She is responsible for delivering environmental health initiatives at the grass roots level while translating outcomes from these initiatives and other observations from the field into evidence based policy at the state level.

Mr Jeff Standen is Manager of the Aboriginal Environmental Health unit at NSW Health.  Under Jeff’s guidance the unit has trained more than 17 Aboriginal people into professional roles with degree qualifications and delivered and evaluated projects to improve housing for over 4000 families in Aboriginal communities across the state, reducing hospitalisation for a range of health conditions.  The unit has also established a multi-million dollar cross-agency partnership to improve environmental health infrastructure in Aboriginal communities.



The intensity and frequency of natural hazards in New South Wales (NSW) such as floods, heatwave, droughts and bushfires are projected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change. Socially and economically disadvantaged groups including Aboriginal people will be disproportionately affected by climate change. More Aboriginal people live in NSW than in any other Australian state or territory and improving Aboriginal health is a key focus for the NSW health system. Understanding the impact of climate on the health of Aboriginal people is key to the development of adaptation strategies and responses to reduce these impacts under the influence of a changing climate. This presentation will report the results of a scoping study to describe the impacts of climate change on the health of Aboriginal people in NSW, and opportunities for adaptation.

NSW Aboriginal populations are currently more exposed to a range of climate hazards compared to the non-Aboriginal population, including longer heatwave duration, more rainfall variation and increased months in drought conditions. This disparity in exposure to climate hazards is predicted to increase due to climate change.  The presentation will identify a wide range of climate-sensitive health conditions, as well as ecological and socioeconomic determinants of health that will exacerbate the impacts of climate related hazards on Aboriginal health.  The recognition that culture is an underlying determinant of good health is in line with the ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy which advocates for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-driven approach to health policy and program reform. This strength-based approach is key to improving resilience to the impact of climate on Aboriginal health.  Action is needed now to develop effective Aboriginal led adaptation responses to build resilience of Aboriginal populations to the current and future impacts of climate on health.


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