This Gympie student is leading hundreds of peers on strike
IT'S a powerful youth movement gathering steam around the world, and a Gympie girl has emerged among the most passionate voices in the crowd.
Budding environmental scientist and St Patrick's College Year 12 student Shellie Joseph will lead hundreds of her peers and like-minded community members on the "School Strike 4 Climate Australia” in unison with tens of thousands of others around the country on March 15.
Their mission, to demand Australian politicians "take our futures seriously” and treat climate change like "the crisis it is”, will be echoed by similar student-led protests in every Aussie capital city on the day.
Miss Joseph, joined by a leadership group of around 12 Gympie high school students, said she has sacrificed valuable study time to organise and plan the strike on a local level.
"I'm very dedicated to my studies and my schooling, so it was a lot for me to sacrifice in not just the day off but my study time, but I think it's worth it, it's a long-term problem that needs a solution right now,” she said.
"We have three main goals we want to get out of this action. The first is we want 100 per cent renewable energies by 2030. We want no new coal or gas. And we want to stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
"We're doing this for a safe future. Because we deserve and demand the same rights and the same clean future our parents had, and our grandparents had. We demand intergenerational equity.”
The 16-year-old said she had been pleasantly surprised by the support she had received since beginning her planning.
She said attending a climate summit led by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition in Melbourne had inspired her passions for protecting and campaigning for the environment.
"It was a really amazing opportunity, I got to be around heaps of like-minded students and young adults.
"I called them (AYCC) up and said I want to get a bus from Gympie or a train so people can get down to the strike in Brisbane.
"(They) said organise one yourself, organise one for the Sunshine Coast.
"It was really reassuring. I thought I was going to be alone but I wasn't. Heaps of people answered the call, I've got four people from Gympie High helping organise it, three people from James Nash, people from Cooloola Christian College, Noosa District, Peregian, Caloundra.
"There's so many students interested in helping the cause. It's so reassuring. The unity we've found together through our passion and concern for our future is incredible.”
The former Gympie South Lions Club Youth of the Year winner admitted she had found the school strike idea difficult at times, especially as a student leader at her school.
She encouraged all interested students, parents, teachers and community members to join the cause.
"I've always been passionate about this and I've always been passionate about standing up for what you believe in,” she said.
"In our region I think there's a stigma associated with environmental topics and activists in particular. It's so relevant to our farmers, our local indigenous communities, everyone in our community.
"If I can get my peers to stand up with me and have a voice with me, which they have, it's amazing.”
The Sunshine Coast School Strike 4 Climate, held in conjunction with organisations like the AYCC and Stop Adani, starts at 11am on Friday, March 15 at Peregian Beach.
Register your interest by following the Sunshine Coast School Strike for Climate on Facebook or online at https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/support-us.