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Roundtable signals step towards climate resilience in the Torres Strait

STANDING UNITED: Roundtable representatives on Waiben (Thursday Island)

A roundtable with community, regional and government representatives on Waiben (Thursday Island) in January (Wednesday 18 January) has continued dialogue from last year’s (30 June 2022) Ministerial Roundtable on Climate Change in the Torres Strait.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the Roundtable was an important step in establishing the Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence which builds on cooperative climate action for First Nations Australians.

“These discussions are as important as ever with sea levels rising at about three times the rate of the global average in the Torres Strait region,” Assistant Minister McAllister said.

“Torres Strait communities are some of the most at risk, but this support will promote meaningful consultation and action to secure their safety now, and in the future.

“The government is committed to collective climate action, and we will achieve this by working hand-in-hand with Traditional Owners and other First Nations people including our Pacific neighbours.”

Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Chairperson Napau Pedro Stephen AM said the meeting reaffirmed a shared commitment to progress a federally funded Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence.

“The Torres Strait is at the front door to climate impacts in this nation,” Mr Stephen said.

“Climate change is among the biggest threats we face not only in our lifetime, but for generations to come.

“The Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence will connect traditional knowledge, lived experience and Western science to design and identity climate action in communities across the Torres Strait.

“It represents a new, nation-leading model for working with Torres Strait Islanders and other First Nations people across Australia on the critical matters affecting our lives and communities,” he said.

Mr Stephen said recruitment for an executive to oversee the establishment and operations was underway.

“This Centre of Excellence will showcase and invite innovation and collaboration between industry, researchers, government and a local workforce based across the Torres Strait region, including outer islands,” he said.

“By working with Traditional Owners, remote communities and also our Pacific neighbours we can boost climate resilience and roll-out adaptation strategies that reflect our needs, culture and way of life.”

The Australian Government committed $15.9 million over four years (2022-23 to 2025-26) to establish the Torres Strait Climate Centre of Excellence under the 2022-23 Federal Budget.

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