Beyond the Night Sky? Climate Change Communication In a Queensland Coastal Town

Dr Kerrie Foxwell-Norton1, Ms Anne Leitch1

1Griffith Centre For Social And Cultural Research, Griffith University, Australia, Bogangar, Australia


Our paper presents preliminary results of a targeted project that examined climate change communication and community engagement initiatives in a Queensland coastal community. Our case study for this work is drawn from projects funded under the Queensland Coastal Hazards Adaptation Program (QCoast2100). This program acknowledges the critical role of local governments and their efforts to engage communities in climate change adaptation, specifically related to coastal hazards such as rising seas and warming ocean temperatures.

Local governments have identified that one of their main challenges in planning for climate change is having the appropriate knowledge and processes to engage their community. In response to this need, our research focusses on one local council, seeking a deep engagement with those primarily responsible for the delivery of climate change communication in communities.  Key questions relating to the rationale and assumptions of those at the shoreline of climate change policy and implementation are a necessary starting point for developing effective and efficient community engagement strategies.

A series of in depth interviews, alongside critical discourse analysis of policy and engagement efforts illuminates the potential strengths and challenges of community engagement, communication and climate change in a local context.   We conclude with suggestions about the ways in which local governments might move ‘beyond the night sky’ and a focus on the usual ‘stars’ of engagement efforts to better engage with the vast ‘dark matter’ that is the everyday experience of people and the places they live.


Anne Leitch is an Adjunct Member of the Griffith Centre for Social And Cultural Research. She recently completed her term as Communications Officer for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility based at Griffith University and has extensive experience in community engagement initiatives.