Dean Forbes



Anglicare and Flinders University

Research to Practice Seminar

Flinders University Victoria Square

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Professor Dean Forbes

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International & Communities)

Flinders University

Good morning, and welcome to Flinders University Victoria Square, and to this Anglicare/Flinders Research to Practice Seminar on the social service aspects of climate change.

I would like to acknowledge the presence of Dr Lynn Arnold,  CEO of Anglicare.  And also the organisers of todays event: Dr Nicole Beaumont (Flinders), Dr Ian Goodwin-Smith (Anglicare) and Dr Emily Lee (Anglicare).  Welcome also today’s guest speakers.

This is another event in a series of successful Anglicare – Flinders research collaborations. These include the delivery of public and/or staff forums on specific issues of interest; Flinders staff engagement in specific projects; and Flinders staff involvement in the evaluation of Anglicare programs.

Current initiatives underway include assistance in the creation of a Calendar of Events for Anglicare; a dedicated Anglicare/ Flinders page on Flinders website; and research on medical devices. More public fora are in the planning stages.

The theme of today’s seminar on the social services aspects of climate change is apt.  It strikes me that there has been a subtle, but possibly significant, shift in the public attitude in Australia to the issue of climate change in recent weeks. The probability that climate change is happening, and that the science is credible, is becoming better understood. 

There are some notable exceptions, of course, both in politics and the media.  The worst examples are in the form of ‘shock jock pseudo science’.

Complacency also remains a problem.  A speech yesterday by Garry Weaven (AFR 30/5/11) to members of the superannuation industry took them to task for their failure to realise the significance of climate change and of the need to invest in areas such as clean energy.

However, the focus of discussion is, and should be, shifting.  The community, and the policy-makers, must direct their attention to the issues that really matter.

Perhaps the most important issue at present is the policy instrument that we have that can bring about a slowdown in carbon emissions. In market economies we have long accepted the idea that if you cause damage to the environment you should pay the cost of restoring it to something like its original condition. 

Inevitably, to deal with our globally excessive carbon emissions problem we are going to have to accept some kind of Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), along the general lines of the scheme proposed by the Commonwealth Government.  As with most public policy, the devil will reside in the detail, rather than in the principles underpinning the scheme.

Other measures will also be necessary.  We must manage the issues associated with the existing and future impact of climate change and also ameliorate the impact of the new instruments of the CPRS.

The disadvantaged in our communities, such as those in low income and vulnerable households, are particularly at risk from both the direct impacts of climate change and associated increases in the cost of living. I note that this is clearly identified in Anglicare’s Research Agenda 2009-2013.

Equity will be a fundamental component of policy development in this area. Compensation and adjustment assistance must be targeted at the most vulnerable members of the community, including low income households.

The day’s program looks excellent; there is considerable expertise collected together in the room, and I am sure it will lead to lively discussion..

I wish you all a successful event.