• Australian Indigenous climate ambassadors Narelle Long and Malcolm Lynch discover how the changing climate impacts indigenous communities (SBS)
Two young Indigenous climate ambassadors have been touring Australia to document the impact of the changing natural environment on traditional communities.
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Source:
NITV News
27 Apr 2014 - 2:19 PM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2014 - 3:25 PM
Narelle Long and Malcolm Lynch were the first young Indigenous people to set foot in Antarctica back in 2012.
 
They've traveled all across the South Pacific -- from the Great Southern Oceans to the Tiwi Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef and they say it's clear climate change is already having an alarming impact on Indigenous culture and community.
 
For the first time, they're bringing together climate change science and indigenous traditional wisdom to assess so-called tipping points to better understand how much of our climate system is changing.
 
Malcolm Lynch went back home in the Wurrumiyanga township on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin.
 
"I guess it was my responsibility to harness and impart that awareness and knowledge from my trip," the Indigenous Environment Ambassador told SBS.
 
The two Australian Indigenous climate ambassadors have made a documentary called The Tipping Points - Oceans: The Last Frontier, which aired on NITV. 
 
One of the tipping points Malcolm observed was the wattle flowering pattern. The Wattle bloom is supposed to signify the beginning of hunting season.
 
"The wattle is flowering and at the moment this is really rare for us. It's happening too early, I think it is about three months too early," says Kevin, a Tiwi Island Tour Guide.
 
It disrupts traditional hunting practices and offers a clear indication that the population of just 1500, is already trying to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
 
"There's particular, or sacred areas where you know now we can't go because of high levels of sea rise, or flooding. So there are areas where we can't sort of go and continue our culture and ceremony, which is a big part of Aboriginal culture," Malcolm says.
 
Community Elder Barry Wurrumiyanga says the community is having to adapt their lives to accommodate changes in the environment.
 
"This is the future for the young people to understand what is going to happen in the future," he says.
 
It's the same further south of Darwin, along the Daly River, on Narelle's grandmother's country.
 
The Indigenous Daly River community there relies on the river and seasonal change for food.
 
"Last year lilies come bit later so when it come up rains came and they all died again. So we couldn't go out and collect them so something is happening to the climate especially the lilies, which is one of the main foods for bushtucker," Traditional Elder Patricia Marrfurra McTaggart says.
 
Narelle Long's Daly river community lives right on the water and rising river levels are disrupting traditional fishing methods.
 
"To be able to, through the tipping point series, come back home to country and see what is actually happening in my community, and around Australia, is a little bit alarming ," Narelle Long told SBS.
 
She says she's not a climate change crusader, but says she thinks it's time to raise awareness after Elders showed her how turtles - a vital source of traditional food - aren't breeding.
 
"No food sources that they would be able to gather and hunt and fish. So they won't be able to get food from the natural environment anymore and if that is being affected there's no point them staying there."
 
With such a strong connection to land, climate change may also mean culture change for the next generation of Indigenous Australians.