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Australia Today

Here's What All Those Striking Teens Think About Climate Change

A report from Melbourne's edition of School Strike 4 Climate Action.
Images by the author

High schoolers around the country wagged school today to protest the Federal Government's lackadaisical approach to climate change. In Melbourne and Sydney, several hundred teens showed up to march and wave banners that read semi-sophisticated stuff like “There’s no Planet B,” as well as more straightforward messages like “F**k ScoMo.”

The protests have come about after 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg got worldwide attention for her Friday strikes. She too refused to attend school, and demanded movement on climate change. This inspired the Australian movement, School Strike 4 Climate Action, which invited students aged five to 18 to "tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is—a crisis."


On Monday this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison jumped into the foray, recommending that students stay at school and leave the decision making to lobbyist-swayed adults. “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools,” Mr Morrison said at question time, in answer to a question from Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Interestingly, the organisers behind School Strike 4 Climate Action reported increased sign-ups after Morrison chipped in. We went down on Friday afternoon to meet some of the striking students. Do they really believe they'll change the world?


Asher, 10

VICE: Hey Asher, do you think you can change the world?
Asher: I am not quite sure but I would like to.

Do you think it's better to be here than at school?
Yes, definitely. I have learned that sometimes the government can be right and sometimes they can be wrong. I think today the government are wrong, and I think the more people the more change.


Ambroes, 18

Do you think you can change the world?
I think anyone can change the world because everybody can do their part. If we all did our little part the world would slowly start to change.

There have been many other people in the past saying climate change is bad and needs to stop. What makes you think you can make such a big change?
Well, maybe, hopefully this is something that would highlight the issue a bit more. But yeah, I’m not really sure what this will do. I think if we hold more events like this it will pressure the government to do something about the issue.


Why did you come here today?
Well I care very deeply about the world and I don’t think it should be made uninhabitable because that just sucks.


Hamish, 18

Hey Hamish, do you think you can change the world?
I don’t think I would do it by myself, but there is a lot of people here and there are other Australian cities that are doing this today. I feel like if we all get together like we do there will be a change.

Why do you think you coming down here will make a change?
Well I don’t think this individual protest will do much. But then the liberal party might take some notice of how bad they have done in the Victorian election. They need to realise that they need to change, because the majority of Australia does want action on environmental issues.

Why are you here today?
Personally, I came down here because Scott Morrison told us not to, so I did it to get him back pretty much. I also care about climate change, you know there is no second planet, so we got to protect this one.


Sam, 15

Do you think you can change the world?
I reckon with the next generation we can definitely change the world 100%. We have a lot of good ideas coming up, I reckon in the next generation we have a lot of smart people coming from school. I reckon it is definitely possible to change the world. So yeah people power is the way to go.

Since you missed out on school today, have you learned anything today at the protest?
I have learned that there are a lot of people who are passionate about the topic. I really think that strives a lot more people that aren’t as interested to get into it. I think it is really important to get everyone involved.


Does your family and school support you being here today?
My parents do support me being here, a couple of the teachers actually did say that they didn’t mind students coming out here. I think having that support from parents and from the people you see nearly every day is amazing, it’s so great to have people like that around.

How do you feel about Scott Morrison saying you guys shouldn’t be out here protesting and you should be in school?
I think that he is really living under a rock to be honest. He really has to lift his game, it’s like he is not taking account other people’s views and I just don’t think that is right at all. But I’m here today because I wanted to join in and I saw and thought what a good idea we can get the younger generation, that is going to be voting in a couple of years to be able to push and try and get this to change.


Shaun, 15

Hey Shaun, do you think you can change the world?
Yeah, I think, but not individually but with a huge group of people and a big commitment I think we can.

Why are you here today?
I am here realistically because my friends are but also because I feel the more people that are hear the more recognised it will be.

Have you learned anything today?
Yeah, I have actually learned a lot by looking at the signs people are holding up, that I didn’t know before. I did kind of learn that you actually can make a difference with a lot of people, because I have never been to one of these before. I also feel really positive because everyone is here for the same reason and there is no conflict or anything.


Zara, 16

Do you think you can personally change the world?

Go on. How would you do this?
I would build my way up, I would become prime minister. It’s not going to happen but it’s a dream. I would make people’s lives better, I would actually listen to people and listen to their words and do something good for them.

Since you didn’t go to school today have you learned anything here?
I have learned that a lot of people can make a lot of noise and a lot of people really care about this issue.


Louis, 17

Hey do you think you can change the world?
It depends on what you think changing the world is. I feel like if you’re doing your part in the world that changing it at some point. But if everybody was to do that little part it would make a big change.

Why are you here today?
I don’t know because I just think that climate change is a big issue and if anything, it might not directly affect me but it will definitely affect my kids and their world. That honestly makes me sad to think that they might not have the same world that I had.

How do you feel about Scott Morrison saying students should be at school instead of this protest?
Look you know I have given up with the news, I don’t even watch the news anymore. I just find Australian politics such a waste of time and I think it is sad that I have gotten to this point. I just think it is fucking bullshit I think he is just afraid of kids, which is kind of sad its embarrassing for him.

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