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February 10, 2023

Over 800 northern rivers students demand action on climate change

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Students rally in Byron’s Railway Park demanding the government take action on climate change. Photo Jeff Dawson.

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.

Over 300 students gathered in Lismore’s Spinks Park demanding action on climate change. Photo supplied.

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 Jahla Ferguson, Mia Thom and Vindi Ferguson leading the Byron rally. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Byron rally

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.

OUR FUTURE

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.


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20 COMMENTS

  1. Well done the students!. If our government weren’t so blind and listened to the proof of scientists and its people and act accordingly…then the students would not feel compelled to forsake school to make their point regarding their future..

  2. It would make more sense to lock the Cabinet in until they took some sensible action.
    Why must we wait until May to get rid of these incompetent clowns?
    But Byron’s kids give us hope for the future. Thank you all!

  3. Awesome. It’s more their future than mine, so I totally support their actions. Brickbats for the Byron HS Headmaster not supporting these kids’ actions. Not a very progressive action.

      • The headmaster is a woman, not a man. See what happens when you assume…? Also, I’m pretty sure if any of the teachers/admin were actually to speak their mind, you’d see they are proud of these students for putting into action what they’re taught in class.

  4. The young have more guts, brains, common sense & care
    than any senior politician on any side. May they keep at it.
    Many of us ‘older’ matriarchs are standing with the young.
    Believe it.

  5. Does Dept of Education have power to imprison students? I used to get kept in on detention but any actual legal power might have been a bluff.

  6. These Hero students need to walk home disconnect their electricity, take their parent’s car keys and bin them.
    That is what is needed.
    Every car pollutes.
    Every home except mine creates global warming.
    I have 100% solar power and batteries.
    I would not recommend solar to anyone, it is costly, complicated difficult.
    Being realistic Australia needs coal-fired electricity for another generation.
    If Australians are not realistic they will totally wreck the rest of the economy and not have the currency to import their food and buy parts for their ageing imported cars.

  7. So great the Police and Council supported students.

    Sad the schools and teachers felt unable to support the rally.

    I would say the teachers were put in between a rock and a wall with jobs on the line. I know a lot of teachers at Byron High who would be happy the students are making a stand.

    Byron High supports environmental issues and encourages students to participate.

    The trip to the Plan for the Future Conference Mia is on with teacher and the projects the Plan for the Future group in the school has organised are a clear indication the school support the well being of the planet.

    So maybe bagging out the school is not ideal.

    I’m sure mass amounts of pressure was placed upon the principle

  8. I studied 1st level geography in 1971. We were taught about the greenhouse effect and global warming then. Since that time huge swathes of forest have been cleared, innumerable cars and motor bikes have been made throughout the developing world and our leaders still will not accept responsibility and work together with multilateral global agreements to save the planet from disaster. Thank God for the youth of today.

  9. Bravo kids and shame Byron high. they had the support of the senate, the community and parents, but not their school, how sad that the place that is meant to be nurturing them into adults do not support such a wonderful action. By the way, the student signs at all the rallies were fantastic.

  10. Good on all of you.
    In modern day Australia ordinary people, all of us, need to unite in big numbers to resist climate catastrophe. This struggle has been going on for years without reaching critical mass. It is so heartening to see students standing up.
    Now build on your numbers and keep protesting! The corporatocracy is getting shriller and more desperate by the day (just look at Adani). Stay strong, fight on!

  11. Well done to all attendees, we are going to need something Global, cos all this “off-shoring” is circumnavigating the reductions required.

  12. The students aren’t ‘brain washed’ – it’s the ‘hair brained’ control freaks
    & money grabbing’ investors & their stable-mates who need looking into.
    Grow up & take some responsibility for the state of the country you live in.

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