In 2022, WHLM received state government funding from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to deliver a pilot project that would build community awareness of climate change and support each other to adapt to these changes.
Alongside the Loddon Mallee Climate Ready Plan (CRP) the 2021-22, the WHLM ADAPT Project was developed to respond to key goals and objectives of the CRP. These include:
- Individual and communities have the knowledge and tools to become climate ready
- People in the Loddon Mallee feel connected to their communities and supported to become climate ready
- Individuals and communities are happy and healthy
- Individuals and communities have the housing, food, financial security and access to services they require.
Regional communities are impacted in unique ways by extreme weather events like heatwaves, bush fires and flooding. These conditions negatively affect our communities in terms of farming, economic security, transport, access to services and social connectedness, and have a unique impact on women in terms of mental health load and unpaid care responsibilities. Whilst climate change affects everyone, women’s voices are rarely heard when it comes to community conversations regarding climate change preparedness and planning.
Recognising both the challenges and strengths that migrant women hold in adapting to life in a new country, WHLM developed a project that centres migrant women’s voices and lived experiences and highlights their strengths in adapting to climate change.
Activities and objectives:
Summary of activities:
- Consultation survey
- Workshop series with climate adaption specialists
- Fortnightly project working groups
- Community conversation events facilitated by community advocates
The project engaged six women from Karen and Filipino communities as Climate Change Community Advocates.
Through a series of workshops participants deepened their understanding of climate change and climate adaption and undertook activities that helped them to identify their resources, skills and strengths (e.g. strong community relationships, communication skills, bilingual skills) that can be used to protect the things they value (e.g. family, healthy communities and nature).
Following this, participants shaped and delivered two community-based conversation sessions in Bendigo and Pyramid Hill where they shared their knowledge of climate change and strengths in adaption with peers.
- Support peer to peer knowledge sharing opportunities and forums
- Develop community conversation sessions that focus on strengths and protecting what people value
- Increase local knowledge sharing about local climate impacts and adaptation solutions
- Increase climate knowledge through accessible and inclusive resources
- Increase confidence to promote climate action to personal networks/wider community
Through the workshop series and working groups, the team were able to identify the following strengths and capacities among them:
- Cooking and food
- Backyard farming
- Caring and empathetic towards animals
- Strong connections to culture
- Strong ties to communities in Pyramid Hill & Bendigo
- Dedicated and motivated leaders
- Generous and community minded
From here we identified that food and community were key shared values, with sustainability and backyard farming as skills that support these.
Because of this, the team decided to focus on food security and growing their own fruits and vegetables as a climate adaption strategy. This sustainable practice ensures that community members have access to fruits and vegetables during extreme weather events where they may be unable to go to the shops or afford the increased prices on supermarket shelves.
The team highlighted the intergenerational knowledge around sustainability practices that have been handed down to them from their parents and grandparents:
“There are practices we have learnt from our grandparents. We have seen from our elders how to be sustainable. They don’t push us to do the same, but we just know ‘how-to’ through them. They have been living sustainably and recycling since the world begun”. – Filipino community leader and WHLM climate change advocate
When asked how to keep this knowledge and practices alive, the team determined that they need to celebrate these skills so that they do not die out. This became the focus of our two Community Conversations events: create a gathering to celebrate multicultural community gardeners and value their role in addressing and adapting to climate change.
The community conversation events adopted a strengths-based approach to community climate adaption and demonstrated the wealth of skills and knowledge that everyone can learn from multicultural communities in adapting to climate change.
At the Bendigo event, Karen community members were highly engaged in the conversation and were voluntarily answering questions during our panel, resulting in the conversation morphing more into an open Q+A rather than a panel!
Upon project completion, WHLM Climate Change Advocates reported increased confidence to facilitate community events– this was a great opportunity to demonstrate women’s leadership and involvement in important conversations taking place around climate change.
“I feel a lot more confident after the community conversation event. If I had to facilitate and lead another community events I would be less nervous and would be more relax about it.” – Karen community leader and WHLM climate change advocate.
“It was imperative to have this kind of the community conversation event. I was so thrilled having this chance to share about adapt climate change and learnt more about how my community sustain the food due to the climate. This is so precious experience and I intend to able to hold this kind of event more often.” – Karen community leader and WHLM climate change advocate.
Similarly, community members who attended the events reported an increased understanding of climate change and adaption:
“I learnt about climate change and met new friends” – Karen community member, male, 34
“I learnt how to grow and how to plan for changing weather. I’m happy to be here to meet new people and be with my community.” – Karen community member, female, 50yo
The greatest strength of these events is that they were led by community for community and in a community-based setting. The events created space/opportunity for multicultural communities to demonstrate their existing strengths and capacities in adapting to climate change, rather than being told by non-migrant communities how to adapt to climate change. By listening to what migrant communities have to say, wider communities are able to learn from them too. It is important that multicultural voices be heard and authentically consulted within climate conversations. This project was one step towards greater visibility of multicultural leadership and voices in mainstream climate change spaces.
*NOTE: Pyramid Hill event to take place in 2023 – impacted due to floods.