Our day began with an early wake up call with most of the group waking up around 3:00 A.M. After all gathering in the lobby, we bused to the Adelaide Airport and began our day of travel. We flew from Adelaide to Melbourne and after a short layover flew to our destination of Cairns. We arrived in the city in the early afternoon and had just enough time to drop our luggage off and grab a quick lunch before we went to our first visit.
Our first visit was the Apunipima Health Council for Indigenous nutrition in Australia. While there we learned about the efforts that are being made to improve the diets and lives of Indigenous people in the Cape York area of Australia. Nutrition in Australia is a huge problem. Only one in two adults eat the recommended amount of fruit and one in ten eat the recommended amount of vegetables. This has a huge effect on the Indigenous people of Australia as 31% of diseases is the country can be attributed to a deficiency in diet.
There are also considerable efforts being made to improve the lives of Indigenous people. By improving the nutrition of First Nation People the organization wants to help close gaps in life expectancy and child mortality. They want to close the life expectancy gap within a generation and the child mortality gap within a decade. They are also trying to target how ingrained smoking has become in the Indigenous lifestyle and get people to quit.
Later in the day we had a talk with Julie Carmody about the effects of climate change, tourism, ports and shipping, agriculture, climate events, and the crown of thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. Julie is a senior project manager for the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and has a PhD in sustainable tourism.
The Great Barrier Reef is 2,300 km long and 344,400 square km (about the size of California) and has 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands, and 300 coral cays. The Great Barrier Reef is high in diversity with 6 of the 7 marine turtle species in the world and 1,625 types of fish.
The Great Barrier Reef is maintained and protected by a variety of organizations including 70 traditional owner groups, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian government, the Queensland government, and more. To help protect the reef, there is a reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan and a Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. There is also a Best Management Practice that uses volunteers to help protect the reef and there is a lot of research being done to try and think of new ways to protect the reef with the warming climate.
Tourism at the Great Barrier Reef brings in 5.2 billion dollars a year and much of that money goes back to protecting the reef. Tourism also employs over 64,000 people. Although tourists have benefits for the reef, there are also negatives including damage to the coral from people touching and stepping on the coral and people picking up things from the natural environment.
Coral bleaching was another important aspect we learned about. Coral bleaching is caused by the water being too warm and it makes the coral very sick. Coral bleaching does not kill the coral right away but will eventually if the water does not cool down. Climate change is a reason coral bleaching has become worse over the years.
Talking to Julie was very enlightening and encouraged us to be more thoughtful about the Great Barrier Reef because it will take a world wide effort to protect it.
After our talk with Julie, we ate dinner with her at the Cock and Bull restaurant.
A photo of the group outside of the Apunipina Health Center.
A photo of the Cock and Bull restaurant we ate at with Julie Carmody.