From the frontline of droughts and flooding rains

Publication date
Friday, 6 Jan 2017

ANU alumnus Joseph Vile has volunteered for an environmental organisation in Hanoi, worked on his family farm in southern NSW and researched the impact of drought in Papua New Guinea.

But no matter where he goes, he says one thing remains the same.

“Farmers everywhere love to yarn about the weather,” says Joseph.

And with good reason too.

“They’re outdoors, dealing with the elements, and many of them are on the frontline of climate change impacts.”

After graduating from ANU in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies, Joseph was searching for a way to help communities adapt to climate change.

That search led him to the Australian Youth Ambassadors Development (AYAD) program in Vietnam.

“I felt very fortunate to be accepted into the AYAD program straight after graduating. It’s something that a lot people get into after a few years of work outside university,” Joseph says. 

“I arrived right when they happened to be starting an exciting project working with farmers on climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta.”

Joseph says that the farmers he was working with knew the impacts of climate change well, even if they didn’t know what to call it.

“When we talked to them about the impacts of climate change it immediately clicked for them.

“Vietnam is in the top five countries worldwide for vulnerability to climate change impacts because it has a very long coastline, it is prone to typhoons and the majority of the population lives in low lying delta regions.

“Farmers in the Mekong Delta are definitely feeling the impacts of climate change already, including heatwaves and droughts.”

Joseph has now traded the Mekong Basin for the Murray-Darling Basin, having accepted a graduate position with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority—Australia’s government agency looking after the sustainable management of water resources in the region.

Growing up on a farm in southern NSW, Joseph has a lot of practical expertise to bring to the role, but he says it was the experiences he had at ANU that helped set him up for work in government.

“The Fenner School of Environment and Society is cutting edge in terms of what they teach their students.

“Graduates like me can be confident that we have had world class lecturers, that we can work in practical natural resource management settings and that we can get involved in higher level policy support.”  

This world class education has also helped Joseph to improve the landscape closer to home.

“After I finished up in Vietnam, I came back to the family farm in Burrumbuttock, New South Wales.

“Through both my studies at ANU, and my time oversees, I have learnt different ways to manage livestock and crops and I have been able to use this experience here on the farm and contribute it to my local Landcare group at West Hume.”

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