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June 18, 2021

Students lead climate rally, March 15 

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Mia Thom

For the second time kids from Byron and Lismore Shires will strike from school demanding political action on climate change.

Hundreds of kids from the Byron and Lismore Shire areas and from multiple high schools will be striking from school and attending a protest through Johnson Street in Byron and at the Lismore Quad on March 15.

Tens of thousands of Australian school students from hundreds of schools in dozens of cities and towns will join students from around the world to strike from school that day, demanding urgent political action on climate change and the Adani coal mine.

Byron Bay

Meeting at Railway Park at 10am and walking to Main Beach students and their supporters we will hear speeches from local students and non-amplified musical items from young artists.

Lismore

The action will be mirrored in Lismore at 10am at the Lismore Quad and will include passionate young speakers, musicians, and a panel of experts including state and federal candidates and scientists.

Arky Ryall, Year 11 student from Trinity Catholic College Lismore said, ‘It’s really important to me that we look after our planet, because I’d like to have a future in a world as beautiful as this.’

Last November, 15,000 Australian school students walked out of school, prompting ire from PM Scott Morrison. Yet politicians still refuse to implement climate policies, jeopardising the opportunity of a safe future for all.

School students will joined by adults who we have invited to walk out for the day in solidarity with us.

School Strike 4 Climate leaders Ella Whan and Mia Thom. Photo Jeff Dawson

Threatens existence

Year eleven student Jahla Ferguson from Cape Byron Steiner says, ‘Climate change is the biggest issue our world has ever faced; this is not like a world war in that it jeopardises or freedoms and rights’.

‘Climate change threatens our very existence, our planet’s ability to sustain life and our parliament is ignoring it.’

Year ten student Ella Whan from Byron Bay High School added, ‘All of the scientific research conducted proves that climate change is a reality. The government has ignored it for too long so it will impact my generation and the next to come. So no it’s our time to stand up and fight for our future.’

Year ten Student Inde Henderson from Byron Bay High School said, ‘Climate change is here, it is happening everywhere and it’s happening now. We simply don’t have the time to deny the evidence let alone deny action against it.’

Murwillumbah added

In late-breakng news, Murwillumbah students will also be striking on the day, with a later rally time of 1-3pm in Knox Park.

Support from community groups

Additionally, the Climate Emergency Guidance Group, a community-led group formed under a resolution of Byron Shire Council last year ‘fully support’ the strike.

Other community groups also in support of the student led rally are Zero Emissions Byron, COREM, Mullum SEED and Creative Mullum.
Kelly Reiffer from the Climate Emergency Guidance Group told Echonetdaily, ‘We recognise the urgency of action needed to mitigate climate change and fully support the School Strike for Climate on March 15 and the need and right for students to express their voices and ideas for urgent political change on climate change policy at a local, state and federal level.’

Independents for Climate Action Now (ICAN) party founder, leader and local environmental scientist Jim Tait said, ‘Your heart really goes out to the school kids involved in these climate strikes. In most instances they’re taking more direct action that many adults and yet they’re not even old enough to vote. At the end of the day their concerns need to be turned into electoral outcomes and implemented climate action policies.’

ZEB’s Christobel Munson told Echonetdaily, ‘We too are desperate to see an immediate about-face on climate change from all levels of government.’
‘To give people of all ages hope for the future, we, too, want to see urgent positive action on climate change.
‘We demand that our governments finally have the courage to face the scientific realities of climate change – along with the other 195 signatory countries at COP21 – and immediately commit to stop burning fossil fuels.’

Disciplinary action

While some schools have said that they support their students voices state run high schools have deferred comment to the NSW department of education.

‘NSW public schools are neutral places for rational discourse and objective study,’ said a spokesperson for the department.

‘While the NSW department of education understands some students are passionate about this topic, all students who are enrolled at school are expected to attend that school whenever instruction is provided. Any student not in classes on a school day will be marked absent and unexplained absences may be subject to the school’s disciplinary code.’

However, a refreshing tone was taken by Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School principal who told Echonetdaily that, ‘Climate Change is one of the most crucial issues facing humanity today. Student voice in this issue is vitally important. I support those students who are speaking out for action regarding climate change and commend them for their courage in speaking out.

‘Normal classes will be operating at school on the next Climate Action day and we ask any students planning to attend the action to discuss this with their parents and only do so with parent support. The climate action activity planned is not a school activity, however we will provide support and a process for those students who are attending school on that day but still wish their voices to be heard.’

For more information: www.schoolstrike4climate.com.

Mia Thom is from Byron Bay High School


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15 COMMENTS

  1. These kids are thoroughly decent caring adults of our future, with far more adult awareness than a vast number of present day politicians.

    Politicians and voters alike, need to be aware that we need to act now, in the absence of real action to this point, or else set up mass intolerance which may well be greatly socially de-stablising and likely riotous.

    It’s our choice.

    We must vote for action against climate change, and chose to eat less or no meat, and travel less or no unnecessary road and air miles.

  2. I wish people on government duties also join the young schoolchildren on these school strike for active action in climate change, there isn’t planet “B” guys! Am concern that my four grandchildren might suffer the concequences of our blind inactions!

  3. Thirty (?) years ago Melbourne had its Secondary Schools Student Union. Liz Wheelahan was secretary. She’s now a professor at university of Melbourne. A pioneering model for Friday’s students. Martin Sullivan

  4. This is scandalous, action should be taken against parents, teachers and principals who go along with this nonsense. We saw it with the homosexual marriage issue, now it’s climate change. Are our kid going to be forced out onto the streets for every social issue?

  5. Hear, hear! at least these kids are using their education. Unlike our politicians and others concerned only with their profit and power. If adults are too tied up in where the money is coming from; our children, who have to face the future way beyond our future, have every right to protest the short sighted behaviour of adults. There’s no point in having the biggest wealth balance if the planet is uninhabitable. Do our politicians feel confident they can answer the question from their children and grandchildren’ ‘Dad/ Grand dad, what did you do to protect our future?’

  6. Do you kids know what your are protesting about ? Do you really know the science? What is wrong with you people ? We in Australia are actually doing something about climate change have signed up to the paris agreement unlike the real polluters of the world USA , China , India, Russia, who incidentally have not signed onto the paris agreement?? And have not intention of doing so !! Those nations are infact ramping up the coal fired power , to supply cheap power costs for the citizens. This hysteria regarding Australia not pulling our weight is not correct ..now if you kids have such passion and adults, about the climate change..pack your suitcases head overseas to the countries that are actually doing very little to reduce carbon emissions and make a difference. Prediction its going to flood on the northern river’s in 2019 .

  7. WTF! I thought schools were a facility for education, not an institution for school children to be indoctrinated and push the political agendas of their teachers. There will be plenty of time post-school and in adulthood for these adolescents to form their own opinions about social issues so let them focus on their education.and enjoy their youth without being pressured to conform to group thinking and opinion. What of the students who don’t subscribe to the global warming hysteria? Hopefully freedom of choice allows them to not participate in what seems a “one size fits all” approach by the school. If the students are genuine about their concerns, suggest they protest on a non-school day and see how many turn out!

  8. Full marks to our young people expressing their views on climate change.
    Australia needs to do far more and we are not meeting our climate change targets although our current govt is doing some very creative accounting to suggest that we are..
    As a country Australia has the 2nd highest per capita CO2 emissions in the world and we technologically and financially capable of joining the vanguard of nations who are doing so much more.

    Any school that takes punitive action against well behaved protest on Friday needs to reassess their ‘raison d’ettre”.
    This is our childrens future and they have a right to express their displeasure at the way in which climate change is being viewed and dealt with as it is the young who will be left to live with the consequences of our choices.
    For those who believe this is an irrelevant issue, you are quite out of step with reality with the 99% of climate scientists stating that we are close to a “tipping point’ .and immediate action is required.
    This right to assemble and protest is fundemental to our basic rights and this lesson in peaceful assembly is as much a part of our childrens education as the 3 R’s IMHO.
    I will be joining our young to be a part of this important message to our leadership on Friday.

  9. YES TIM! The kids are ‘decent’ – far more so than the adults
    represented here. I’m a retired tutor & I understand how
    important it is for youngsters to understand what is actually
    happening in the world – the world they will inherit. The
    young ones ‘see the flaws’ of Government inaction to Climate
    Change, the Adani lies, what sits as a Parliament ‘mad house’
    the grown-ups support in droves as long as they can ‘invest
    a buck’ to make more bucks even if their actions bleed this
    country dry. I’m ashamed to be seen as ‘an adult’ aged 74.
    And while we are at it – those who voted YES for Equality
    get more than my vote.

  10. Fantastic that our students are leading the way on this fundamental issue. For the last 6 years the Government has done all they can to promote coal interests in this country at the expense of our future. Well done to our young people.

  11. Hi we are two 12 year old girls,
    We today, marched for our planet ?
    Looking through these comments and taking them in,
    Some we agree with and some we don’t,
    We were then asked if we felt like we were being pressured into doing the school strike for climate march,
    We replied with “we don’t feel pressured into helping our planet we feel the opposite,
    Meaning we feel pressured to go to school and give up on our opportunity to help”.
    Should we really be scared for our future???
    It was incredible to see how many people turned up and how many people care,
    We think that the government and its parties need a fresh new updated education.

  12. Fantastic turn out today for the wonderful courageous students of Byron Bay….I am sooooo proud of you all.We were there to support you and your enlightened endeavours , what a wise & intelligent community we have within our youth. You are more aware & informed than our political leaders who continue to take money from Big coal and our coal cuddling PM is a damn disgrace. I hear Slowmo actually got the coal industry to put wax around his chunk of coal he proudly displayed in parliament ? But Hey ! it won’t hurt you Slowmo. Congratulations to our eco warriors in our Shire , how lucky we are to have such passionate & committed students ( and adults) in our beautiful region. THANK YOU students & don’t give up, there is NO PLANET B. If only adults treated Mother Earth with such concern and respect that you showed today. Koala hugs all round.

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