Supporting the student climate strike

Students at the Alice Springs climate strike earlier this year.

Tim Davis Frank explains why the AEU NT and other education unions support students taking action on climate change on 20 September

In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the United Nations has called upon all people around the world to take action to lower greenhouse emissions, build resilience and improve education on climate change.

The 2019 theme is “Climate Action for Peace” and people will be sharing their activities online with the hashtags #PeaceDay and #ClimateAction.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated that “We need decisions, political will and transformational policies to allow us to still live in peace with our own climate.”

The Federal AEU and the AEU NT’s Branch Conference have declared public support and endorsement of the Student Strikes for the Environment taking place on 20 September.

Federal President Correna Haythorpe declared in March that

“the AEU commends the actions of students in November 2018 who participated in the climate strike to build pressure on the Morrison government to enact laws and policy that would place Australia at the international forefront on proper action to tackle climate change.”

Jarvis Ryan, AEU NT President, states that

“students who participate in the strike planned for September and in any future actions must be afforded their democratic rights and must be able to participate in these actions safely. AEU NT officers will work to provide advice to AEU members about the appropriate protocols to ensure the safe participation of students in the strike and we will send a delegation from the AEU NT office to take part in the event.”

As teachers and educators we have an important role in educating young people about being responsible global citizens. Undoubtedly, the many Australian students participating in these important civic actions are doing so because of studies in science, geography, commerce, economics, legal studies, maths and English that inspire and educate.

These students are empowered because of our farsighted education system.

Although teaching staff are not permitted to engage in stop work action for the climate strike, members of the AEU NT are encouraged to show solidarity with the students in a manner you feel is appropriate.

Some of the suggested ideas are: to apply for a form of approved leave in order to attend the strike; organise a workplace action to show solidarity such as posting selfies to social media; or pass a resolution of solidarity from your sub-branch.

The global federation of education unions, Education International, has stated

“Students, by taking to the streets, have rejected cynicism and apathy and embraced hope. Hope is contagious and can inspire others to take charge of their destinies. The action of students on climate change has not only forced discussions in many countries about that issue, but has also revealed the weak response of many democracies to the most compelling needs of the population and the planet. This mobilisation can contribute to and help inspire a process of re-invigoration of the democratic process.”

Let us all hope that our politicians are inspired by the passion and intelligence of our incredible students.

This article was first published in the Term 3, 2019 edition of the Territory Educator magazine