Carroll College student Maddi Handley says the voice of local youth is vital when addressing climate change.
A member of Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Youth Committee, the year 11 student spearheaded a youth forum in June 2021, giving representatives of all Eurobodalla high schools a chance to have their say on council’s draft Climate Resilience Plan.
The plan will show how council can continue to reduce its carbon footprint and support the wider community to take action.
Depoliticising climate change, improvements to resource management, and cleaner, greener energy are a few of the solutions called for by the group.
“The voice of our youth allows for new and fresh perspectives – it challenges previous ideas and concepts,” says Maddi.
“We may be young, and still have a lot to learn and experience, but this is the world we live in and will be growing up in.
“Our opinion, our perspective and our voice – they are and forever will be important.”
Forum participants examined what they saw as issues with the climate, along with potential solutions, and identified what support they needed to take action.
Year 12 St Peter’s Anglican College student Jarrah Limon says many solutions are large scale – such as solar rebates and planning rules – but “we also want to be able to create change within our own lives, changing attitudes … changing our personal norms and expectations”.
Council’s sustainability officer, Aaron Atteridge, says he gained much from the forum and will use the students’ input when preparing the plan.
“I was so impressed by how articulate the students were in defining what the problems were and where the solutions could be found,” he says.
“Things such as cleaner energy, tackling land use changes, preparing for extreme events and changes in weather, and providing direction on who they think should be responsible for taking action, including themselves.
“Council’s youth and sustainability teams are stoked to support these motivated young people.”
Eurobodalla Shire Council’s draft Climate Resilience Plan is expected to be considered by the newly elected council in early 2022.