Bligh Park's Tayla Nicholls documents climate change in Vanuatu for university project

A YOUNG woman from Bligh Park is helping spread the word about climate change and its effects on people in the Pacific as part of an undergraduate study with Western Sydney University.

Twenty-year-old Tayla Nicholls travelled to Vanuatu with a group of students and academics to get close and personal with Vanuatu’s climate change battle and make two thought-provoking documentaries about local people and their plight.

The Pacific island nations are at the frontline of climate change, battling with rising sea levels, more extreme weather events and their consequences including cyclones, tsunamis, storm surges, coastal flooding, and landslides - and Vanuatu is ranked as one of the world’s most at‐risk countries to live in.

Tayla, who is studying communication and media, was the sound recordist of a short film titled Helti Fuja (‘healthy future’). 

Commenting on the experience, Tayla said: “I’m incredibly grateful for this overseas experience because it has shaped who I am and made me much more aware of world issues such as climate change and sustainability.  

“I got out of my comfort zone and have now made lifetime relationships as well as contributing to an amazing film about real world issues that we know the Vanuatu community is proud of.

Helti Fuja is as authentic a documentary as you can get, as we formed relationships with the characters included from staying in their homes. As a result of our relationship, they felt comfortable in sharing their stories with us and I know they are proud of the documentary we produced.”

For this project, Tayla and nine other undergraduate students and their academic supervisors spent four weeks in villages in North Efate and the islands of Nguna-Pele and captured their experience.

The short films tell the stories of local environmental champions who are monitoring the health of their reefs, growing coral, developing climate resilient crops, fighting the use of plastics and educating children in their communities.

The film Tayla worked on first screened at the first youth-led Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Goals Challenge supported by the United Nations University. It was also shown at a music festival in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu trip was supported by funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Colombo Plan initiative which aims to increase student’s knowledge of the Indo Pacific region.