Impact of climate change on disadvantaged groups: Issues and interventions
Authors: Arusyak Sevoyan, Graeme Hugo, Helen Feist, George Tan, Kelly McDougall, Yan Tan and John Spoehr
This study determined that key climate-related issues faced by disadvantaged communities were heat, water shortages, and increasing utility prices (power and water). As socially excluded individuals have less social capital (informal support/access to information systems) with which to cope, increasing social connectedness needs to form a central part of a climate change adaptation response. Socially excluded groups studied, demonstrated a high level of readiness to change behaviour in response to environmental change, but lack the appropriate information. Future communication of climate change information should consider the finding that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to communication is doomed to failure in the context of disadvantaged groups. Using the concept of ‘social inclusion’, Australian census data and 1800+ interviews, this study created a composite index of social exclusion with indicators based on the following variables: low income, unemployment, education, household tenure, disability, single parent households, english-speaking ability, car ownership, internet connectivity, volunteering, and the presence of aged/indigenous/newly arrived populations. The composite index revealed that there are clear spatial dimensions to social exclusion in Australia, and was used to identify areas with the highest level of social exclusion. Port Pirie, Port Adelaide Enfield and Berri/Barmera were 3 South Australian communities which fell within the most socially excluded classification, and represent area types characterized by locational disadvantage in Australia – where social disadvantage coincides with strong exposure to environmental/climate change impacts.