While everyone's experience is different, a traumatic event such as a bushfire can be a "wake up call" that leads to an understanding climate change is affecting someone's life, an anthropologist and social researcher has said.
When encouraging those experiencing denial to accept climate change could be causing such terrible events, Dr Beth Hill said it was important to respect their perspective.
"The first thing to acknowledge is the impacts of climate change always intersect with long-standing environmental issues and social concerns," she said.
"It never happens in a definitive way where we can say 'this is climate change'."
It was best to discuss your own experience and talk about why you were concerned about the future, she said, as that gave the person experiencing denial the chance to see where you were coming from rather than just repeating science.
Dr Hill has conducted an ethnographic study into the relationship between the Blue Mountains bushfire of 2013 and climate change.
She interviewed the community to see how they made sense of the event and said "out and out denial" of climate change was rare.
"People have difficulty coming to terms with what it really means and push it to one side," she said.
She found the bushfire had created anxiety as people realised the uncertainty about what the future held.
"I found a general awareness of climate change in the role it may have played in the fire, but a real hesitancy in naming it as part of the process," she said.
She said Australian culture valued self-reliance and independence, and cultural constructions such as these that associated vulnerability with personal weakness affected people’s responses to the reality that they could be impacted by climate change.
Dr Hill also saw the difficulty people encountered in expressing fear and grief over climate change, which she said was not a denial but rather a rejection of vulnerability preventing open expression of concern and painful emotions in public.
The trauma from a bushfire itself may not change a perception of climate change, she said, but the process afterwards could have an influence.
For instance, if someone lost their house and rebuilt to a new set of building regulations they were not aware of, it could reinforce the idea of a new level of risk.
Dr Hill said studies have found climate change can impact on the mental health of the population.
One report by the American Psychological Association stated major mental health impacts included increases in the incidence of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as increases in more severe reactions like post-traumatic stress disorder.