CLIMATE ACTION: Melissa Christi, Jorjah Saunders, Georgia Haupt and Brigid Connolly attended the School Strike for Climate protest.
CLIMATE ACTION: Melissa Christi, Jorjah Saunders, Georgia Haupt and Brigid Connolly attended the School Strike for Climate protest. Toni Benson-Rogan

Bundy students, community members join national protest

DOZENS of people from the Bundaberg community have gathered in protest alongside thousands of people across Australia, calling for the government to take emergency action regarding climate change.

Yesterday, students left their classrooms and met with like-minded people at Buss Park at 11.30am to share stories, learn about the environment, spread awareness and fight against impacts such as the Adani mine.

For a student movement, more adults attended the protest on time, but a handful of students from both high school and university were among the crowd, before 40 students from Shalom College arrived at about midday with the help of Principal Dan McMahon transporting them in the school's bus.

Bundaberg State High School year 12 student Jorjah Saunders, 17, said she wanted to let people know that students and youth were involved in the movement and wanted to make a change.

Jorjah Saunders stood to why the protest was important to her as one of the young people who attended.
Jorjah Saunders stood to why the protest was important to her as one of the young people who attended. Toni Benson-Rogan

Ms Saunders and friends, Georgia Haupt, 17, and Kerrod Box, 16, were absent from school for one class to attend the protest, and returned to school once it was over.

"I get that people don't want to miss school but I think this is important ... if we don't come to stuff like this we're not going to have school or the ability to study," she said.

"A few people did say they'd prefer us to stay at school, even though they do like that we want to do it, but I wanted to come."

 

CLIMATE ACTION: Jorjah Saunders, Georgia Haupt and Kerrod Box left school for one period to attend the protest.
CLIMATE ACTION: Jorjah Saunders, Georgia Haupt and Kerrod Box left school for one period to attend the protest. Toni Benson-Rogan

Ms Haupt said "it's important to make an appearance at the very least, to try and spread awareness".

"Some people and teachers have said it's an unexplained absence, you shouldn't go, it's not justified, but what's the point of going to school if there's not going to be a future," She said.

"You've got to think about the big picture, and not many people do."

CQUniversity education student Brigid Connolly, 18, said it was important to educate the youth on environmental issues in school, as she had not been taught herself.

 

Brigid Connolly protested for climate action in Buss Park.
Brigid Connolly protested for climate action in Buss Park. Toni Benson-Rogan

"We have been studying, since the start of university, the effects of environmental change and sustainability, and I just couldn't believe that not enough kids knew about this," she said.

"Even though we would eventually be able to teach it when we finish our degree, there's not going to be enough time.

"We need to educate the kids now, let them have a voice now."

She stood up and spoke about the importance of climate change awareness during the protest, and said she felt glad to have the support of other passionate people.

"I think it's something that is so important and I know that these people are behind me and behind this cause."

Melissa Christi, 23, is studying ornithology, a branch of zoology that focuses on the study of birds, and said if changes aren't made immediately, her career path would be at risk.

 

Melissa Christi said the industry she was studying would no longer exist if climate change continued to worsen.
Melissa Christi said the industry she was studying would no longer exist if climate change continued to worsen. Toni Benson-Rogan

"I came today because it's my future that's on the line, it's everyone's future really at this point, young and old, because we do not have a lot of time left," she said.

"We have a tiny window where we could save the environment, but unless we all work together that window is going to close very rapidly.

"That's why I'm here today, because I want everyone - particularly in this region because there is not a lot of awareness here - to just stand up, take note and take action.

"We all need something to look forward to and we don't yet."

Ms Christi lives in Mt Perry and said it was hard to ignore the effects, such as the drought conditions worsening.

"I'm seeing what is happening around me every day, and it's getting too hot to almost live comfortably any more, air conditioning can only go so far,"

"I'm really terrified about what's going to happen in the future because the very young and the very old are going to be at extreme risk.

"We're not going to be able to keep them in a comfortable temperature where they can thrive and they're going to die."

She said she wouldn't be able to work because there wouldn't be any birds left to look after.

Shortly after the protest started, Ms Christi got up on a bench and started to direct attendees as to what the plan would be, and called up individuals to share their stories.

She said she did not organise the event and no one was sure who did, but felt there needed to be some leadership to get the movement going and stepped up to the plate.



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