Walk­ing out for cli­mate change

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Pa­trick Tansey

Co­bram Sec­ondary Col­lege stu­dents took part in a strike on Fri­day, which saw thou­sands of stu­dents across the coun­try de­mand­ing an end to po­lit­i­cal in­er­tia on cli­mate change.

Just be­fore the lunch break, a large group of stu­dents left their class­rooms in a ‘walk out for the en­vi­ron­ment’.

The na­tion-wide move­ment was in­spired by Swedish stu­dent Greta Thun­berg, 15, who pledged to protest out­side par­lia­ment in Stock­holm un­til the coun­try caught up on its com­mit­ments un­der the Paris Agree­ment.

The de­sire for the col­lege to take part came off the back of a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil lead­ers Freyja Black and El­lie Jones.

‘‘El­lie sent me a news re­port about how stu­dents have been stand­ing out­side their lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fices in their uni­forms ba­si­cally say­ing ‘this is not al­right’ and we thought it was pretty in­spir­ing,’’ Miss Black said..

‘‘Then we found out there’s an ac­tual site (School Strike for Cli­mate Ac­tion) and a pe­ti­tion, so we thought we’d get it started at school.

‘‘It’s too far away for us to stand out the front of an ac­tual gov­ern­ment of­fice, so we thought we’d do it here and try and make it a lit­tle more teacher­friendly,’’ she said.

Miss Jones said on read­ing the story on­line about other young peo­ple tak­ing ac­tion on the im­por­tant is­sue, she felt em­pow­ered to do some­thing sim­i­lar.

She did not want stu­dents who are pas­sion­ate about cli­mate change to feel sup­pressed on the mat­ter.

‘‘I was on the ABC News app and I came across the story and I thought it would be a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity for us to ex­press what we be­lieve to be a big is­sue in Aus­tralia at the mo­ment,’’ Miss Jones said.

‘‘I sent it to Freyja and asked her if we should do some­thing at school for it and she said yes, so then we went to our prin­ci­pal Kim­ber­ley Tem­pest and asked if we could do it and she was re­ally sup­port­ive of our plans.’’

The stu­dent leader felt the youth of to­day had a vi­tal role in shap­ing the fu­ture of cli­mate pol­icy.

‘‘I think it’s a re­ally im­por­tant is­sue for our cur­rent youth gen­er­a­tion at the mo­ment be­cause it’s go­ing to be the pre­dom­i­nant is­sue that’s go­ing to af­fect us go­ing into our adult lives,’’ Miss Jones said.

‘‘I guess Freyja and I both felt this walk out was a great op­por­tu­nity to gauge how many other kids in our area think some­thing sim­i­lar.’’

Miss Jones said she had never been in­volved in a stu­dent-led ini­tia­tive to the mag­ni­tude of this one.

‘‘Since I’ve been at the school from Year 7, this is the first event I’ve seen where the stu­dents have ac­tu­ally ini­ti­ated the en­tire process,’’ she said.

‘‘A lot of other ini­tia­tives have been stu­dent driven as well, but ones in which the teach­ers have played a big role in. This one has been purely us.

‘‘It’s pretty phe­nom­e­nal to see the amount of kids in our school that have jumped on-board and signed the pe­ti­tion.’’

Miss Black said there had been mixed re­sponses to the walk out, but over­all, most had been ex­tremely pos­i­tive.

‘‘Some peo­ple have been ques­tion­ing it a lit­tle bit or sim­ply didn’t see the posters about it, but I feel stu­dents here gen­er­ally want sus­tain­abil­ity,’’ she said.

‘‘I think we’re a gen­er­a­tion that thinks ‘let’s make a dif­fer­ence to this prob­lem’.’’

The Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil is plan­ning to send a let­ter to Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum and Mem­ber for Ovens Val­ley Tim McCurdy to high­light the re­sults from the pe­ti­tion in a plea for change and gov­ern­ment ac­tion.

Pe­ti­tion: Co­bram Sec­ondary Col­lege stu­dents line up to sign the pe­ti­tion against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of cli­mate change.

Time to act: Co­bram Sec­ondary Col­lege Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil mem­bers El­lie Jones and Freyja Black.

Sup­port: School Strike for Cli­mate Ac­tion posters at Co­bram Sec­ondary Col­lege.

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