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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.’
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