A survey has found many Australians do not know individuals can make a difference to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

A survey led by QUT researchers has found that most Australians are not making a connection between climate change and reef health.

They say there is more individuals could do on this front, both in the home and to influence government policies.

“While there are many threats to reef health, including poor water quality stemming from land-based runoff, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish, climate change represents the greatest threat to our Great Barrier Reef,” said researcher Dr Angela Dean.

“Record-breaking marine heatwaves over the past 10 years have seen an increasing frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events.

“Many Australians … don’t necessarily know how to take the next steps to help the Reef.”

The research team asked survey participants the question; ‘What types of actions could people like you do that would be helpful for the [Great Barrier Reef]?’

“Just 4 per cent mentioned a climate action and 12.3 per cent wanted to help but couldn’t think of anything they could do on a personal level,” said Professor Wilson

“Only one in 25 respondents identified at least one specific action that related to climate change. Almost one third listed donating money and the most common group of responses related to pollution, especially plastics.”

Professor Wilson said the vast majority of those surveyed referenced reducing their plastic consumption over using less energy in the home.

“Only a handful of people considered that they could make a difference by doing things like driving less, reducing their use of air-conditioning and sourcing electricity from renewable retailers,” she said.

“As for what we call public-sphere actions, many more respondents suggested policies such as banning sunscreens or stopping commercial fishing, rather than any climate-related civic action such as lobbying governments or donating to charities working on reducing emissions.”

Dr Dean added because everyone can support action on climate change, everyone in Australia can help the Reef, no matter where they live.

“Some people might choose to focus on actions at home, reducing electricity use or changing to renewable energy sources,” Dr Dean said.

“But perhaps more important is sharing our support for protecting the Reef and encouraging Governments step up to show leadership and action on climate change.”

The study is accessible here.