Why can’t you strike after school? Why don’t you care about your education?
These are some of the questions Year 12 student Elizabeth Hoyle faced from community members when she started organising the very first School Strike 4 Climate event for Parkes last Friday.
She told the almost 100 people in Cooke Park, including the Parkes Mayor: “The truth is, I do care. I’m doing my HSC this year, of course I care about my education. But I’m 17. I can’t vote. My generation will be the most impacted by climate change, and yet we have no say in climate policies.
“I’ve come face to face with the false narrative that country people are against climate action. It’s going to take all of us – individuals, businesses and governments to solve the climate crisis. Actions like these are a way to show we all care.”
She said the school strike event was an example of students “using their education to speak up about things that matter”.
Year 4 student Oscar Hendry, who organised his very own climate strike earlier this year and helped with Friday’s event, showed how no one is too young or too old to try and make a difference.
He said: “I feel we need to take action, and we need to take action now. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this crisis and how you, as a kid or family in Parkes, can make a difference to a global catastrophe like this.”
He said putting it into the too hard basket and doing nothing was not an option, and would only make our future even more bleak.
Continuing the theme of how humanity could no longer afford to ignore the signs of climate change, Neil Westcott said: “As individuals, communities and local councils we need to be realistic about what we are up against, but doing nothing should not be our way now, and it should not be our future.
“Will somebody please tell me what is the downside of pursuing a greener, healthier and more sustainable world? What scares politicians and shock-jocks alike about turning towards a future that does carry with it the benefit of a healthy environment, and a world that can sustain all life?”
Neil said at the start of his speech that as a Councillor he was not speaking on Council’s behalf “(though they are a wonderful and progressive group of people), likewise because I am a farmer, I do not represent the views of all farmers…
“I am an individual, 61 times around the sun, that shares your frustration at the lack of urgency in solving climate crisis that is unfolding – and lack of empathy for the generation of young people who will eventually do all the heavy lifting in the years to come… by many who have the power to make a difference right now.
“Young People, you are on the right side of history, continue to speak with passion, continue to move in larger and larger groups and one day you can vote with collective wisdom. I wish you all well, and all power to you,” said Neil.
The Parkes event attracted people from the region, including students from Red Bend Catholic College in Forbes, and sup-porters from Dubbo. It was a national day of action for the School Strike 4 Climate movement and the first since the COVID pandemic with thousands of people protesting all over the country.
By Maggi Barnard