By Taylor Foster
CERES Education Communications Coordinator
In February I explored in a previous article the origins of the global student climate strikes and the story of Swedish student activist Greta Thunberg.
This time around I want to briefly explore how the student strikes began here in Victoria, Australia, the student organisation that has developed, the major actions themselves in more detail and what is in-store for the future.
After Greta’s personal strike protests in September last year went global, students around the world began to pick up the narrative and run with it.
One such group is the Australian-based School Strike 4 Climate.
Inspired by Greta, students from Castlemaine in Central Victoria conducted their own personal strikes in late 2018 and then began reaching out to other students across the country.
What arose from this organising became a national student strike day on the 30th of November, called the School Strike for Climate Action. Actions were announced for capital cities and at least 20 regional centres, with the students in Melbourne gathering on the steps of the old treasury building before marching through the city.
Students gather outside the old treasury building for the first School Strike 4 Climate action – 30th November 2018
An estimated 15,000 students across the nation were involved in strike action on the day, an impressive number for an organising period of mere months.
The Central Victorian student activists have also consistently traveled to Melbourne for organising gatherings and to hold smaller protests including outside of the office of Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s office in Moonee Ponds, all the while amassing a following on social media.
Central Victorian students protesting outside of Bill Shorten’s Office, Moonee Ponds – March 8th 2019
Fast forward to early 2019 and a second school strike protest was announced for Friday the 15th of March. This time inviting supporters along, Spring street in Melbourne was packed from Parliament down to the old treasury building. The national protest actions saw, 150,000 students and supporters taking to the street on the day, a tenfold increase compared to the previous action.
School Strike 4 Climate rally – March 15th 2019
The CERES sacred kingfisher also made an appearance and students took it upon themselves to spread its wings amongst the protest.
Students holding up the CERES Sacred Kingfisher puppet at a rally – March 15th 2019
Not losing any steam, School Strike 4 Climate have announced the next mass strike for May the 3rd, turning their attention to the upcoming election and with explicit demands regarding opposition to the Adani coalmine and the implementing of a shift to renewable energy over the next decade.
A continual thread through all of the student strikes is a demand to be heard and for action to be taken on climate change. Not being able to vote – and questioning effectiveness of change through voting – has driven these students on to the streets to demand action.
We hope the students continue to grow their movement and demand serious action be taken on the climate challenges facing us.