Devon Van Rooyen, Halle Allcott and Hurley Gatley.
Devon Van Rooyen, Halle Allcott and Hurley Gatley.

Climate strike will create awareness

STUDENTS attending today's climate change strike in Buss Park are developing the skills to become global citizens.

This is according to Bundaberg based CQUniversity academic, Karena Menzie-Ballantyne, who studies global citizenship.

"The Strike4ClimateChange protests and the reactions to them should be a clear message to both political and educational leaders to ensure that their commitment to active and informed citizens is more than just words on a path," Dr Menzie-Ballantyne said.

She said the Federal Government was seeking submissions for an inquiry about democracy and civic engagement, yet potential overlooked the engagement of students demonstrated at the strikes.

"Step one in a true representative democracy should be to listen to the people, and step two is to seek consensus rather than foster divisive … arguments that imply we either address global concerns or local issues like jobs," Dr Menzie-Ballantyne said.

The strike is held at noon on the last day of the school term, and timed three days before the United Nations Emergency Climate Summit, meaning students would be absent from school in order to attend.

Two Bundaberg private school principals weighed in on their views about the benefits of the strikes, but both were like-minded when it came to ensuring students developed critical thinking with political and sustainability issues.

St Lukes Anglican School principal Craig Merritt said the school did not endorse the strike, but it left the decision to the students' families.

He was certain that some of the school's students would be attending the strike.

The principal preferred that students continue their learning at school, which operated as normal on the last day of the term.

"So taking time out to protest during the school day is not something we support and we ask our students to be at school," he said.

"But if they are going to go there we absolutely endorse the right of our parents to make that decision that students are involved.

"We ask our students if they are going to get involved that they do so with their parents' permission.

"We obviously don't like our students to be away from school, we want them to be at school learning and the whole focus of learning is to take issues such as this … and look at what we can do to take this further."

But at the same time, Mr Merritt also wanted students to have a voice, and he wanted them to understand the issues of the world which impacted them.

Many of the school students came from farming and mining families, and therefore understood the value of resources

"They know that jobs rely on that but to use it in sustainable ways so our students are aware of the choices they make and what those impacts are and to understand those different perspectives and to come up with a reasoned position."

Shalom College principal Dan McMahon said he was happy for students to participate if they wanted to attend, and was pleased they were showing an interest in politics.

It was a subject they generally showed little interest in, and were more likely to engage in social media and Youtube rather than traditional media.

Mr McMahon said the last day of term was unlikely to be the best time to have a strike, given that families may already be travelling for holidays.

But he said that the strike would do little good for students if they did not think for themselves.

"I want them to think and I want them to educate themselves about the process of engaging in the world, that's important," Mr McMahon said.

He did not want students to attend the strike simply because it was a novelty.

"I would like them to be informed and think for themselves on all sides of the issue, and not just join in a chant because it's catchy," he said.

Mr McMahon disagreed with a common argument that students could only learn in a school environment.

Everybody learned by immersing in the world, and schools did take their students on excursions to performances and to sports events, he said.

On Thursday evening there were 75 people intending on attending the Global Climate Strike in Bundaberg, with another 148 people showing interest.

The strike is scheduled to be held at noon.