Students Strike for Climate Change Following Catastrophic Bushfire Season
By Zara Gudnason
THOUSANDS of Australian university students walked out of class on Friday in protest of the Morrison Government’s inaction on climate change.
Victorian students from RMIT, Melbourne, Latrobe, and Monash universities rallied outside the State Library to demand action following a catastrophic bushfire season.
Students marched down Swanston Street holding banners and signs that read “We are skipping lessons to teach you one”, “Stop Adani!” and “System change not climate change”.
Monash University student Aimee Comas said she was excited but also angry.
“It’s a hard time, especially after the fires, to come back again and to be doing this for another year,” Miss Comas said.
Miss Comas and her friends, including Monash University student Sarah Matthews, attended the school climate strike last year and said they felt disappointed nothing had been done.
Miss Matthews said she wants to see an acknowledgement that climate change is a problem.
“Our government is not accepting that it’s happening,” Miss Matthews told Catalyst News.
“The first step to actually making anything happen is acknowledging that we need to do something.”
Melbourne University student Eliza Stephens said she feels frustrated by the inaction on climate change.
“I want to see a proper plan for transition to complete renewable energy and secure jobs for people because obviously that is super important,” Miss Stephens said.
“I think that the political movement and the social movement can’t be seperate.”
Representatives from various student unions and networks, including the National Tertiary Education Union, the Australian Student Environment Network and the Uni Students for Climate Justice, addressed the crowd of student strikers, calling for the Government to shut down the Adani mine and fossil fuel industry, and to make the transition to renewable energy and sustainable jobs.
Victorian Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam said that there needs to be stronger action day by day.
“We [Victoria] have made some progress but we aren’t doing enough,” Ms Ratnam said.
“We need transformative change.”
Ms Ratnam also urged students to get involved in local government and politics.
“We need you in our parliaments and local governments,” Ms Ratnam said.
“We need to think of every one of our local governments as climate governments. There is no future without people like you in leadership.”
Yorta Yorta & Bangerang person Jess Ferrari said while they are feeling hopeful, it is bittersweet to have to keep protesting climate change.
“As a first nations person I am feeling the full brunt of it and seeing how it’s affecting my community,” Ferrari said.
“It’s depriving us of a future and the continuation of an ancient culture that has been here for 120,000 years.”
Ferrari also said the recent bushfires are another example of the “catastrophic and absolute danger of climate change”.
“The way it ] was handled was disgusting, our government has failed us, and keeps failing us,” Ferrari said.
“It just doesn’t listen to us or our voices.”
The Student Climate Strike took place on Friday March 13.