Report by regional AYCC schools coordinator Vanessa Farrelly (centre in the photo) with William Malam and Shree Thiruvadi (left and right in the photo)
In early August, 30 regional students attending 10 different high schools and colleges in the ACT came together in Sutton for a ‘transformative sustainability leadership retreat’. This two- day camp brought together students from both public and independent schools to learn the skills they need to take action on climate change.
They are members of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s (AYCC) Switched on Schools program.
Switched on Schools seeks to educate, inspire, empower and mobilise high school students to fight for the sustainable and just future they deserve. Young people will be most affected by climate change, as it is our future that is at stake. Yet high school-aged young people cannot vote, and often our voices are left out of the debate.
As Australia and governments all over the world prepare to make climate policies for 2050 at the Paris Climate Conference starting late November this year, it is more crucial than ever that young people’s voices are heard.
William Malam, year 10 student from Belconnen High School attending the retreat said: “Climate change is so relevant to people of my age that it’s hard to ignore. If we don’t do anything now then it’s going to be too late.
“I have already started to organise a climate group for Belconnen High School. We didn’t have an eco-group in our school but I have taken action to start one so that the students have a chance to try and make a difference.”
Shree Thiruvadi, a Queanbeyan local and student at Narrabundah College said: “I have gained a whole host of things from the AYCC leadership retreat; I learned how to be confident, and also had the chance to build up the courage to fight for what I believe in.
“Currently, my school is planning to get more solar panels; educate students on how to get rid of waste sustainably and we are also encouraging students to use other means of transportation such as cycling, walking or catching a bus to school.”
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