Our own voices

Hundreds of Castlemaine school students joined Friday’s global School Strike for Climate Action calling on the nation’s leaders to take more decisive action to address the pressing global issue.
Students travelled from Castlemaine to Melbourne – on public transport – joining thousands of more from across the state – and many more across the world as the demonstration involved 105 countries and 1600 strikes – 50 of them in Australia.
Hundreds more gathered in Kyneton to march down Mollison Street with banners and chants to ensure their voices were heard.
Just before departing for Melbourne on Friday some of the local students chatted to the Midland Express and responded to suggestions from some quarters that they were being led by older people or “brainwashed” into making their attention-grabbing stance on the issue they say seriously threatens their future.
“We all have our own voice and we all want to speak up,” Castlemaine Secondary College student Niamh O’Connor Smith, 16, said.
“Kids know climate change is a thing and will affect their future and, yes, they might see older kids and older role models inspiring them to do it but that’s their choice. They want to do it.”
Niamh named a national shift toward achieving 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 as a main goal.
“I know Labor’s current policy is 50 per cent by 2030 – and the Liberals’ is 50 per cent by 2050, which is not good enough,” she said.
“That target is too late to do anything. So yes trying to get that education out. At the moment they don’t care.
“They’re like ‘let’s build more coal-fired power plants’.”
Castlemaine Secondary College year 12 student Charlie Bell-Wilcock said that far from being led by older activists, he had instead influenced his mother to participate in Friday’s strike.
“I came along to the last one and today my mum’s coming along,” he said.
“So I think people who say it’s just being led by older people haven’t experienced what’s actually going on because it really is being led by the young people.
“Today I’d like to achieve more publicity around what’s going on. We really need more climate action.”
And while the students laughed at suggestions they were acting on directives from adults, many local adults were clearly supportive of the Strike for Climate.
These included Mount Alexander Shire mayor Cr Bronwen Machin who said she was not just representing herself in joining the students for Friday’s demonstration in Melbourne.
“Yes, I’m going along to show council’s support and I’ll be wearing my mayoral robes.
“We have very specific climate change actions in our council plan,” Cr Machin said as she prepared to board a coach to Melbourne alongside the students.
Locals attending the Melbourne Strike demo estimated student crowd numbers to be in the order of 20,000.

Hundreds of young people gathered in Kyneton to march down Mollison Street with banners and chants to ensure their voices were heard.
Hundreds of young people gathered in Kyneton to march down Mollison Street with banners and chants to ensure their voices were heard.

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