Following Australia's worst fire season on record, this week's Farmers for Climate Action public meeting sought input from those on the front-line of climate change.
Hosted by community outreach officer Peter Holding, the Bega and South Coast Climate Change, Bushfire and Community Resilience Forum discussed a range of issues surrounding the response and recovery of bushfire ravaged regions.
What's happening over time is more decisions are being made and influenced, from a [political] party perspective, by a smaller number of people.Voices for Indi's Denis Ginnivan
The agricultural advocacy organisation's new program is aimed at connecting rural communities with world-leading experts in various fields.
Farmers for Climate Action CEO Wendy Cohen said the issue of climate change is likely to play a major role in political campaigns during the upcoming Eden-Monaro byelection following the retirement of vocal climate change advocate Mike Kelly.
Cobargo Bushfire Recovery fund's Zena Armstrong said infrastructure failure during the bushfires was a major concern, adding there is a need for a "disaster preparedness strategy".
Dean Turner from the The Crossing Land Education Trust near Bermagui said "wind data for Bega has shown a clear 50 year trend of increasing windspeeds", and suggested "fire retardant landscape design is a needed response".
"So many of us are now carrying multiple layers of trauma, recovering from one event as the next disaster rolls over us. This forum is so important for connecting us and naming the huge stresses we're under," Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action chair and Bega Valley councillor said.
"We're told to 'prepare' for fire seasons. How can we possibly prepare for these events other than to leave?"
Fellow BSCA member Jesse Ryan said "nowhere feels safe to evacuate to with fires burning all around, and roads closing in all directions".
Resident Sean Burke said "hazard reduction burns are usually way too hot, and promote flammable species".
"Cultural mosaic burning is cooler, retains soil moisture and reduces wildfire intensity," he said.
Australian National University associated professor and climate policy researcher Carolyn Hendriks offered ideas around accessing resources for online community engagement, including crowdfunding platform Particpiedia.
Founder of community engagement group Voices for Indi, and guest speaker, Denis Ginnivan, said a lack of public engagement in mainstream politics in Australia is a barrier to progress on climate policy.
"What's happening over time is more decisions are being made and influenced, from a [political] party perspective, by a smaller number of people," he said.
"There's a sense of disengagement when certain groups of people don't feel that there is any connection for them. And, one of the really big worries I have is the increasing rate of disengagement by young people in politics."