Thousands of students will walk from classrooms to demand climate change.
Thousands of students will walk from classrooms to demand climate change.

Mining families’ message to student protesters

AS THOUSANDS of Aussie school children march out of classrooms demanding climate change action today, regional parents are worried the stunt is ignoring the needs of youngsters in the bush.

The School Strike For Climate event has been slammed by Queensland families and industry bodies, spurring claims that city kids weren't listening to bush kids.

Tens of thousands of students around the world will ditch the books to protest, including youngsters in Brisbane, Townsville and Rockhampton, while others simply hope their towns - and the mining jobs in them - will still exist in the future.

 

Brisbane students preparing to skip school include Thea, Alex, Zac, Norma, Elia, Sunny, Claudia and Sara. Picture: AAP/Megan Slade
Brisbane students preparing to skip school include Thea, Alex, Zac, Norma, Elia, Sunny, Claudia and Sara. Picture: AAP/Megan Slade

 

It comes as new data this month from the Brotherhood of St Laurence has revealed the youth unemployment rate in outback Queensland was 25.7 per cent - the highest in the country.

Rockhampton's Maurice and Victoria Murray have raised their five children on a mining income.

Maurice's wages allowed Victoria to be a stay-at-home mum, provide a good education and support their eldest daughter through law school.

"I don't think they (protesting students) have an understanding of what it is like to live in rural Australia," Mrs Murray said.

"The city kids aren't listening to the bush kids. It would shut central Queensland down, if something were to happen to the mining industry."

 

Matty Wilson would love to get a job in the mines when he's old enough. Picture: Steve Vit
Matty Wilson would love to get a job in the mines when he's old enough. Picture: Steve Vit

 

About 5000 students are expected to join the strike in Brisbane, but it's not known how many will participate in regional Queensland.

Students are being encouraged to protest for up to two hours, with the event placing particular emphasis on Adani's Carmichael coal mine proposed for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland.

In an email issued by Brisbane State High School yesterday, students were told it was a "normal school day" and were required to attend classes for the "whole day", however the email "applauded students for wanting to take action on climate change".

The Gap State High School student Gina will be among those participating in the strike. Her parents did not want her surname published.

The 15-year-old said it was a great way to let the world know students were serious about climate change.

"I definitely think climate change is the biggest issue facing our globe currently," she said. "We should be able to have a say in our future."

Kenmore State High School student Sara, 16, said the demands strikers were putting forward ­- including stopping Adani - were both reasonable and achievable.

Her parents also did not want her surname published.

Sara also said the strikers were aware of the impact on coal miners if the project was not to go ahead.

"It's terrible - we do see so many people who do rely on Adani jobs - we need to be able to transition in a way which is comfortable for everyone involved," she said.

Education Minister Grace Grace said any protest "should be done outside of school hours" and students were expected to attend school.

"Parents are encouraged to let the school know of any planned absences. This ensures parents and the school know students are safe," she said. "School principals will determine what consequences, if any, need to be applied under the school's responsible behaviour plan."

Queensland Secondary Principals' Association president Mark Breckenridge urged parents to think carefully about the impact of "taking a day away" from their children's learning.

"We encourage kids to be at school every day and that parents and students need to consider that in terms of ­making decisions," he said.

"Any absence of a student is disruptive to their learning."

Rockhampton dad KC Schneider's son Carter, 6, will not be going on strike.

Mr Schneider said he did not support the strike action and believed children should be at school to learn.

"A lot of those kids are too young to understand what it's all about anyway," he said. "It would be something that's forced on them by their parents. Ever since our towns have been around, there has been mining."

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the coal mining region in central Queensland provided $1.5 billion in royalties to the state budget each year.

She said it was encouraging that children took an interest in political events but "we need to have an educated and informed view".

LNP education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said kids should protest on their own time.

"This is nothing more than wagging school and any student who participates in the strike during school hours should be punished accordingly," he said.

"If students really believed in this issue let's see how many would turn up on a Saturday."

 

Details of the climate change protest.
Details of the climate change protest.


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