Climate stories

When I went to the other side of Boigu island, I noticed there was no more land for gardening. Our seabed is completely destroyed, all washed out into the sea. Every wave slowly continues to erode our seabed. What can we do? We can’t stop that. The government needs to come to their senses, and help us stop this.

Uncle Fred’s story

Boigu Island, QLD

  • Culture
  • Sea level rise

My name is Uncle Fred, and I am a custodian of this island. This was handed down from generation to generation, and it’s now my time to be a custodian of this island. This island has very rich cultures and customs. As a custodian, I have to make sure I look after my people. I need to share my compassion and love with the community.

I grew up here on Boigu. This was a very beautiful place – it was covered with coconut trees, we used to play on the beaches and go spearfishing in front of the beaches in the waterfront. When I was a kid, the island had many different beaches that you could play on with different types of sand.

Our culture has a very strong belief that is attached to the constellations, to the sky. We are seafarers – our heart, mind, and souls are attached to the sea. Therefore, it is very important that we understand our sea’s patterns – we have to know our seasonal calendar.

But as I grew up, we started to realise that the seasons started to break apart. The seasons weren’t right. This was the first sign that we realised something was wrong. This was many years ago. Every morning, we’d stand on the beach and we would be able to tell you where we can get the fish from today, where we can get the turtle and dugong from,  just by looking at the currents and the tide. We were able to measure the tide movements with the constellations because we’re spiritually attached to the sky.

But now, the wind patterns have changed, the seasonal calendar has been damaged. And now we can’t observe the sea patterns anymore, it’s so unpredictable. We can’t read the seasons anymore to know when to plant the crops, to do backburning.

If we cannot tell the time, if we cannot tell the weather, we are lost.

I am a climate witness. I’ve been watching our climate change for the past 60 years. Even my forefathers told me stories about the changes our climate has undergone

A great deal of skills and knowledge has been passed down and it’s important that our voices are now heard. It’s also important that our understanding of Mother Nature is taught within our community – including things like seasonal changes, impact upon land, weather and rain patterns shifting.

I live in Brisbane now, but I want to talk about one of the things I noticed on my most recent visit to Boigu. Lots of things are changing and missing. A lot of people don’t have land to live on in Boigu. Why? A lot of people have been forced to move further into the mainland because of health issues and the impact of climate change.

We want to be happy people. Colonial Australia came to us and ruined this – you took away our joy. We are lost, and now we are pleading for help. Help us.

When I went to the other side of Boigu island, I noticed there was no more land for gardening. Our seabed is completely destroyed, all washed out into the sea. Every wave slowly continues to erode our seabed. What can we do? We can’t stop that. The government needs to come to their senses, and help us stop this.

Respect the First Nations peoples living on Boigu island. It is your responsibility, it is your duty of care to do this. We are the First Nations of this country, and we are not the outsiders here. We were here from the start, and we will always be here with our island and our forefathers. We will take a stand.

Climate change is harming us all

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Blake's story

Murrumbeena, VIC

  • Health

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