Conflicting World Views: Disjuncture between Climate Change Knowledge, Land Use Planning and Disaster Resilience in Remote Indigenous Communities in Northern Australia

  • Ed Wensing Australian National University
  • Deanne Bird James Cook University
  • Deanne Bird Macquarie University
  • Katharine Haynes Macquarie University
Keywords: Climate Change, Emergency Planning, Land Use Planning, Remote Indigenous Communities


This paper examines the links between emergency management and land use planning in four remote Indigenous communities in tropical northern Australia and the extent to which such linkages produced better disaster resilience in these communities. The case study communities were chosen because they are in locations likely to experience increased frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, both slow (sea level rise, drought) and rapid onset (storm surges, cyclones, floods) as a consequence of climate change. We compared land use planning legislation, state level planning policies, statutory planning schemes, property registration systems and emergency management systems. We found a clear disjuncture between understanding the likely impacts of climate change and the collection of emergency management data and the consideration of hazards and risks in land use planning systems. We conclude that the land use planning systems in tropical northern Australia are still geared toward promoting and facilitating development and have not evolved sufficiently to take account of climate change impacts, including sea level rise. This disjuncture is particularly evident in the context of remote Indigenous communities in Australia and reforms to land use planning systems are urgently required to address this disjuncture.


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