Climate adversity and resilience: the voice of rural Australia
Citation: Ng FY, Wilson LA, Veitch C. Climate adversity and resilience: the voice of rural Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3071. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3071 (Accessed 23 October 2017)
Introduction: Over the past decade, Australia has experienced prolonged drought and extensive flooding. It is argued that such events impact more significantly on rural communities than urban. Although there is a body of research investigating the effects of drought on mental and physical health in rural Australia, little research has examined the effects of flood and drought on wellbeing. This article explores the influence of drought and flood on the wellbeing of rural residents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.Key words: climate change, health, qualitative research, weather, wellbeing.
Methods: Forty-six individuals living in four rural communities in NSW were recruited and asked their experience of flood and drought using in-depth semi-structured face to face interviews or focus groups. The study used a grounded hermeneutic approach to contextualise participants’ experiences within a rural social and cultural construct.
Results: Weather was found to be at the core of rural life, with flood and drought contributing to decreased wellbeing from stress, anxiety, loss and fear. Social connectedness was found to promote resilience in rural communities buffering the effects of flood and drought.
Conclusions: Flood and drought have negative impacts on an individual’s wellbeing. Although these negative effects were seen to be buffered by individual and community resilience, the long term emotional impact of flood and drought on rural communities needs to be further considered.
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