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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Students learn in a climate of ideas

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Students from Main Arm put themselves in the sustainability picture. Photo David Rousell
Students from Main Arm put themselves in the sustainability picture. Photo David Rousell

David Rousell

The ‘Our Voice: Inaugural Sustainability Conference for Young People by Young People’ (www.scu.edu.au/ourvoice) brought together more than 250 children and young people on Friday November 1 to express their ideas and concerns relating to sustainability and the environment. The students used a range of formats to express their ideas, from song, photos, virtual words, and drama to activities like gardening.

The focus of the Our Voice conference was to spark conversation through the exchange of diverse perspectives, ideas and experience.

‘We hope that this conference will encourage children to think critically about sustainability in their local region, share solutions and identify pathways for change in the future,’ said conference co-convenor Associate Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie, from the School of Education.

‘It was inspiring to observe these children and young people voicing their ideas and passions relating to the local environment and sustainability,’ said conference co-convenor Dr Marianne Logan.

Local highlights of the conference included Main Arm Public School’s music video Listen to the Warning, which featured a catchy song performed by students, excellent film production and visual storytelling. The Ocean Shores Public School also led an informative and inspiring seminar on wetland rehabilitation, which received excellent feedback from students and adults who attended.

Keynote speaker Amelia Telford was still at school when she was empowered to make a difference in the world.

The 19-year-old Bundjalung woman grew up with a passion to care for and protect the future of the environment.

‘Getting involved with my school environmental committee sparked a long-lasting commitment to the climate movement,’ said the former school captain of Lismore’s Trinity Catholic College.

Amelia now works in Melbourne as the Indigenous coordinator at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) where she reaches out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to encourage climate action and provide them with opportunities to share their voice.

Earlier this year Amelia experienced the fragile Antarctic landscape first hand as part of the 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Program, an expedition of young people from around the world led by polar explorer Robert Swan.

‘If you set yourself small goals and work towards achieving them then you can push for solutions in everyday activities, especially within a school environment,’ says Amelia.

The Our Voice conference is a collaboration of Southern Cross University, Rous Water and Dorroughby Environmental Education Centre.

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