A rally today brought smiles to people’s faces and brought people out of their shops to clap and cheers as up to 500 students wended their way up Jonson Street in Byron Bay chanting and carrying banners demanding action on climate change – now!
The morning of action by primary and secondary school students and TAFE students was part of the National School strike 4 action and students of Byron and Lismore Shires took to the streets making their voices loud and their opinions clear.
Byron’s Railway Park and Lismore’s Spinks Park saw hundreds of students gathering to voice their opposition to Adani and call for immediate climate change action. Kids held the floor at both events with over 300 students attending the Lismore rally.
At the Lismore event a range of speakers from six to 17 years old voiced their concerns about the future of the planet.
Frewoini Braume, school captain of Trinity Catholic College asked Australia’s leaders to ‘stop playing games of hide and seek. How much more scientific evidence do need? How many more articles do you need written? How many small species need to become endangered before you act?’
Fifteen year old Beth Cooper-Wares from Nimbin Central had most of the audience in tears as she pointed out ‘that by the end of the century the temperature will have risen by three degrees – there are still people in the world who believe it is ok.
‘Well it’s not ok!’ she said.
Students marching up Jonson Street to Main Beach in Byron Bay were chanting a range of slogans including ‘Our planet, our future’ and ‘What do we want? No Coal; When do we want it? Now’. Their banners read: ‘There’s no planet B’ and ‘No Mr Morrison it is YOU who needs to go back to school’.
Mia Thom, one of the student organisers speaking at the rally said, ‘This is our message to our prime minister’ on climate change.
Gathering on Main Beach students set themselves up to spell out OUR FUTURE on the sand to send a clear message to politicians and business people that they want change and they want it now.
‘It is so empowering as a student,’ said Mia.
‘I first saw it (National School strike 4 action) in a Facebook article and contacted students at Cape Byron Steiner and Byron High to organise the strike. We got in contact with the climate strike group in Victoria who were really supportive and and gave us lots of great ideas.
‘The whole thing has been such an utterly incredible experience. It is so empowering to know we can make a change.’
Local councillors and Greens members were at both the rallies in support of the students.
‘I’m so proud of our kids,’ said MP for Ballina Tamara Smith.
‘They are the direct stakeholders in the future.’
Byron High locks the gate
Byron High School students had been forewarned that the school did not support the strike and that any students who came to school would not be given permission to leave for the rally.
‘They sent out a message yesterday saying that they would be locking the gate once students were at school and they wouldn’t let anyone out for the rally,’ said one Byron High student.
‘So this morning I got off in town on my way to school so that I could attend.’
However, local police and the Byron Shire Council got behind the student rally assisting with road closures so that students could responsibly make their way from Railway Park to Main Beach for speeches and music.