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Home » For these Torres Strait Islanders, climate change is already here ? and they’re urging the government to do more

For these Torres Strait Islanders, climate change is already here ? and they’re urging the government to do more

For these Torres Strait Islanders, climate change is already here — and they're urging the government to do more

For generations, Indigenous Australians have thrived on the islands in the Torres Strait – but rising sea levels, more extreme weather and coastal erosion are devouring some of the 17 inhabited islands in the region and threatening their way of life.

Scientific modelling suggests that some of the low-lying islands could become uninhabitable within decades if global temperatures keep rising at the current rate.

"If this happens, we'll be climate change refugees in our own country," Torres Strait Islander Kabay Tamu told 7.30.

"It's going to be so traumatising.

"Our ancestors, our forefathers were buried here. Just thinking about it just sometimes brings tears to my eyes.

"It's really scary to think about that."

In the east of the Torres Strait, Yessie Mosby says climate change has made his island home an increasingly desolate place.

Fresh water from a well that once sustained generations of Torres Strait Islanders has now turned to salt water and parts of the reef around the island that were once abundant with shellfish are now filled with sand.

"The reef outside, it looks like a desert," Mr Mosby said.

"Our ancestors survived off drinking fresh water along the wells they dug out through this island.

"Most of the wells are near the shorelines now — they used to be inland.

"All the water [has] now become brackish. It used to be drinkable — [it's] not drinkable anymore."

'Our human rights are being violated'

Boigu Island priest Stanley Marama is one of eight Torres Strait Islanders who accuse the Australian Government of failing to address the climate impacts that threaten their homes and culture.

They've taken their case to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

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