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Aussie Students Strike for Climate Change Action

15 March 2019 at 5:12 pm
Luke Michael
Thousands of students across Australia are protesting to demand action on climate change as part of a global day of youth activism.

Luke Michael | 15 March 2019 at 5:12 pm


Aussie Students Strike for Climate Change Action
15 March 2019 at 5:12 pm

Thousands of students across Australia are protesting to demand action on climate change as part of a global day of youth activism.

Children from more than 55 Australian cities and towns took part in School Strike 4 Climate protests on Friday, calling for politicians to stop Adani’s coal mine, reject fossil fuels and commit Australia to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The strikes coincide with a global day of student-led climate change action, with protests taking place in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries around the world.

A number of Australian charities have got behind the students, including Save the Children, whose CEO Paul Ronalds said he was inspired by the motivation and strong will of participating students.

“Young people have a right to be heard on the issues that are important to them and this show of global awareness is incredibly impressive from our future leaders,” Ronalds said.

“School is important, but so too is making sure children’s voices are heard in a world run by adults.”

Ronalds said Save the Children supported the democratic right of Australia’s young people to take action, especially when their government would not.

“I know a lot of teachers and a lot of parents are very proud of their kids for speaking out and demanding action by government,” he said.

“Australian students are highly engaged and understand that they will be dealing with the consequences of our inaction.”

The protests have been criticised by a number of federal government MPs, who said students should not be striking during school hours.

Education Minister Dan Tehan told the ABC he would meet with the students to discuss their concerns outside of school hours.

“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” Tehan said.

“Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists.”

But NSW Labor leader Michael Daley threw his support behind the students, telling the ABC: “They do have a democratic right of assembly, they do have a right to protest.”

Amnesty International Australia’s campaigns manager Tim O’Connor said he was deeply disappointed to hear reports of students being threatened with expulsion because of the protests.

He said the fundamental right to protest in Australia was central to the country’s democratic values.

“Australians standing up for the values they believe in has led to important social and legislative change such as women achieving the vote, seeking justice for Indigenous Australians and more recently marriage equality. These people-powered movements have changed Australia for the better,” O’Connor said.

“The fact is that young people, the future leaders of Australia, are frustrated their voices aren’t being heard by our government, who have failed to meaningfully address climate change.”

Australian students filled the streets of all the major cities and regional towns including Geelong, Cairns and Townsville.

In Canberra, students were heard chanting: “The youth are rising, no more compromising.”

In Melbourne, it was reported 20,000 students protested outside Old Treasury Building.

Student striker Harriet O’Shea Carre, aged 14, said school students were tired of being ignored and having their futures turned into political footballs.

“We feel sick when we see the climate impacts that are already devastating communities here and around the world. It’s time for our politicians to stop making decisions about us without us,” O’Shea Carre said.

Brisbane student Moni Siaosi said change remained the single greatest threat to students’ livelihoods, security and wellbeing.

“We are coming together to bring about awareness and to express our deepest concerns for the future and our planet. The time is now. As the sea levels rise, so will we,” the 15-year-old said.

The Australian school strike movement began last year when school students in Central Victoria took action after being inspired by then 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg – who had been striking outside Swedish Parliament calling for climate change action.

Last November, more than 15,000 Australian school students went on strike, defying pleas from Prime Minister Scott Morrison to stay in school.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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