The Federal Court will hold hearings on the island of Saibai, continuing a climate class action against the Australian Federal Government.

After years of pleading with the Australian government to take real action to help protect the Torres Strait Islands from rising sea levels, in October 2021 Uncle Pabai Pabai and Uncle Paul Kabai filed the case against the Commonwealth.

Last week the court held hearings on the islands of Boigu and Badu, where they had a site visit to the failing seawall and the cemetery, which is frequently inundated when tides are high.

Torres Strait Islanders are concerned if sea levels keep rising they will lose their ancestral homes and become climate refugees.

Mr Kabai, from Saibai, will give evidence today.

“We have to bring this case because our islands are sinking,” he said.

“We have to do it for our younger generations, otherwise we will become climate refugees. 

“We want to hold onto our own land, because our culture and identity stays there, if our islands go under we will be nothing.”

The uncles are seeking orders from the court that require the Federal Government to take steps to prevent further harm to their communities, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the best available science. 


Image Credit: Ruby Mitchell