“Civil disobedience is where things change,” says 19-year-old Hannah Doole from a Burly Heads beach, where she is recovering from a night in a Brisbane watchhouse on Tuesday. “If you look at history, nothing has happened until people have put themselves on the line. If it wasn’t for civil disobedience, women probably still wouldn’t be able to vote.”
Hannah, a native of Doctor George, east of Bega, was one of 72 climate change protestors associated with the Extinction Rebellion movement arrested in Brisbane this week. She was charged with obstructing traffic.
“I was only charged with one offence, which I was pretty happy about as some people were charged with three or four.”
Hannah, along with 20 other protesters out of the 72, refused bail and pled guilty in order to expedite going before the magistrate, taking their chances with a night behind bars.
“The food was a real lucky dip, they were pretty overwhelmed with having 72 of us,” she laughs “but I was one of the lucky ones and got to eat quinoa and chickpeas, it was pretty good.”
Hannah appeared in the Roma Street Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday and was fined $300.
It’s hard to argue against the social advances driven by civil disobedience throughout history, but Hannah says protesters like herself are still thought of as ‘feral’ and are dehumanized by the media and mainstream society.
“It does get under my skin sometimes,” she reflects “I’m dedicating my life to this at the moment, I don’t see anything more important than taking action on climate change, we’d be mad not to do anything.”
Without some major and rapid changes to the way we live, Hannah sees the future as a world full of struggling climate refugees, where resources are thin.
“We’ve known about climate change since the 1950’s and we haven’t done much at all. The future, even the immediate future, looks pretty nasty if we don’t change now.”
It was a desire to stop the Adani mine, approved in June this year, which brought Hannah to Queensland in 2018 and she’s still passionate about making a public statement that the mine is environmentally destructive and at odds with her goal for a fossil-fuel-free future.
Late last year, supported by the movement Frontline Action On Coal, she spent eight hours suspended over a train line on a tripod near the town of Bowen, in a bid to hold up Adani’s progress.
Hannah and three other protestors are currently being sued for $75,000 each for their actions on that day.
“Short of bankruptcy, there’s nothing much they can do to us, obviously, I don’t have $75,000. We were lucky enough to get a pro-bono lawyer so we are continuing the back and forth of paperwork.”
Despite its recent approval, the Adani mine is still one of the “huge symbolic actions,” nationally where people are needed on the ground, Hannah says.
While many 19-year-olds in Australia are working in retail or hospitality, Hannah loves her volunteer work as a key organizer with Extinction Rebellion and the Frontline Action On Coal movement.
“Extinction Rebellion have been upping their momentum over the last few months and we’ve got a big international day of action planned on October 7th,” she explains “and at the same time, Frontline Action On Coal has put out a red alert because Adani has started clearing at the mine site, so I’ll go up to give them a hand. ”
“Although three-quarters of Australians say they believe climate change is a catastrophic problem, most of us are not doing anything to address our fears,” Hannah says.
“We need massive action, mobilize your community and get active.”
“More than the dehumanizing, the thing that really gets under my skin is the people who say they believe that climate change is an immediate and pressing problem but don’t do anything.”
Hannah adds that civil disobedience doesn’t create tension, rather it brings tension that is already there to the forefront.