Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Assisting Torres Strait communities with the impacts of climate change

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change Energy Efficiency and Water
    Jim Turnour, Member for Leichhardt

Island communities in the Torres Strait will receive tidal gauges to assist them with monitoring sea levels through $1 million in funding announced today.

King tides, wind and extreme events and increasingly sea level rise are causing tidal inundation and erosion on islands across the Torres Strait.

The gauges will monitor mean sea levels on at least four islands, providing key information to assess tidal variation, potential sea level rise and to support planning decisions. Operating costs for the gauges will be jointly funded by the Federal Government through FAHCSIA and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

The Federal Government also announced today $400,000 for new research into the impacts of climate change on Torres Strait communities.

The Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Penny Wong, said the research would help build scientific knowledge about the risk of inundation to local communities.

Senator Wong and Member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour, today visited several islands in the Torres Strait to examine the problems caused by sea inundation events and coastal erosion.

‘After seeing firsthand the unique challenges faced by these Island communities, it is obvious that we need to gain a better understanding of the potential future impacts of climate change in this unique region,” Senator Wong.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said Torres Strait communities were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea levels, but were proactively addressing the issue.

‘I commend the work of the Torres Strait Regional Authority to-date, which will form the foundation for initiatives that help local communities prepare for the impacts of climate change,” Ms Macklin said.

Mr Turnour said communities in low lying locations were already suffering regular flooding of their small townships and cultural sites at times of high sea levels.

‘Climate change is a real risk, we need to help these communities to better understand the risks and to prepare for it,” he said.