Authorities in the Torres Strait say hundreds of people living on low-lying islands need to confront the harsh likelihood they will one day have to abandon their homes due to rising seas.
The Torres Strait Regional Authority has released a new climate change strategy, which outlines plans to deal with projected sea levels rises of between 50 to 100 centimetres in the next 100 years.
Chairman Joseph Elu says it means some islands may become uninhabitable and building seawalls will not be enough.
“I think the infrastructure that can’t be moved, pipes underground, we just leave them there but the impact on people’s minds and thinking is churches, spiritual stuff and then there’s gravesites of their ancestors buried there,” he said.
“So that’s going to be the hardest thing to leave.
“Whether there’s other methods of doing things – cut services somewhere and get people to move to the other side of the island and build services there.
“The biggest question is what do people want to do with their lives?
“Is it good being resilient or are we trying to stand in front of something that will wash over us anytime?”