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Fighting to save their ancestral lands

Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul are community leaders from the Guda Maluyligal Nation at the northernmost part of Australia in the Torres Strait. Their Indigenous ancestors have lived on the islands for thousands of years.

Now, because of climate change, their way of life, traditional knowledge systems, cultural practices and spiritual connections that have been passed down from generation to generation could be broken forever. Rising sea levels are causing more destruction each year by eroding beaches, destroying sacred cultural sites and cemeteries where ancestors are buried, wrecking food gardens, and putting the island’s’ infrastructure at risk.

Uncle Pabai and Uncle Paul, who are referred to as “uncle” by their communities as a sign of respect, have turned to the courts. They argue that the Australian government is taking insufficient action to prevent harm from climate change, resulting in the destruction of their lands and culture.

Unless urgent action is taken, many Torres Strait Islanders will be forced to leave their homelands as large parts become uninhabitable. This would be devastating to the communities. As Uncle Pabai says: “We are born to these islands, they are our mothers, our identities, who we are. For thousands of years, our warrior families fought off anyone who tried to take our homelands from us. But now, we could lose the fight to climate change.”

Call on Australia to take urgent climate action.


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