Billie Tristram, 13, was one of the faces of Townsville's School Strike 4 Climate earlier this year. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Billie Tristram, 13, was one of the faces of Townsville's School Strike 4 Climate earlier this year. Picture: Zak Simmonds

‘If you don’t want us striking, don’t teach us science’

Thousands of people around Australia and the world are expected to stop work or school to protest climate change inaction as part of tomorrow's Global Climate Strike.

Townsville's own branch of the strike will be held on The Strand from 9am, and has already attracted the interest of hundreds of locals online.

Young climate activist Billie Tristram, 13, said she hoped as many people of all ages as possible would participate, with the event sparking both positive and negative discussion.

Young Townsville climate activist Billie Tristram.
Young Townsville climate activist Billie Tristram.


"This strike, we're getting as many people as we can and creating that movement and momentum to tell politicians and the government to start action now," she said.

"If you don't want us striking, don't teach us science. It's democracy, and I think we are in a lucky position where we do have that."

The strike will aim to send a message to the Australian government and leaders globally to take real action on climate change.

"We thought we were making progress with the amount of people on social media gripping onto this topic in a positive way, but because of the result of the election, which in my opinion wasn't progress, it's a little bit of a slap in the face," Billie said.

Up to a thousand people gathered in Sydney for a climate change protest in May 2019. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins
Up to a thousand people gathered in Sydney for a climate change protest in May 2019. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins

"That doesn't stop us from continuing, in fact we're going to do even more to make it obvious that we're serious about this issue, we're not just cute little kids.

"It is progress that people are talking about it, but in action, I'm not sure if there is any unfortunately."

Billie said the Global Climate Strike was intended to be a peaceful protest, and that extreme protest measures seen in other parts of Australia could potentially distract from the message behind them.

"It's one thing to strike, but there's only so far you can go," she said.

"I think it is going to far, gluing yourself to roads and that kind of thing, I think we should just stick to protesting and saying our piece, but being peaceful about it. I don't think we're showing ourselves in the right way when we're doing it to those extreme measures."

The Year 8 student was also involved in the School Strike 4 Climate held in Townsville earlier this year, and urged people to attend the strike even if they were undecided on their stance on the issue.

"I think it's a really good opportunity to learn more, and from there of course you can form your own opinion," she said.

"We are trying to push raising awareness, and informing about the next steps and solutions. Renewable energy by 2030, that kind of thing. Kids can learn more about their future, and adults can learn more about what they can do. I think it's really important for all age to come because they can all get something out of it."

Townsville's two major universities have expressed support for the strike, provided arrangements are made to limit the impact on teaching or assessment.

CQUni People and Culture Director Barbara Miller said the university was very supportive of students and staff who wish to be involved in the event, but requested that staff arrange leave with their supervisor and ensured their absence does not disadvantage students.

School students take part in the global #ClimateStrike rally in Brisbane in March 2019. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
School students take part in the global #ClimateStrike rally in Brisbane in March 2019. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

A James Cook University spokesman said student and staff participation in the strike was a "personal matter."

"As a signatory to the University Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, JCU acknowledges the significant risks posed by climate change. In accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the University also believes it will be possible to limit the extent of climate change, but this will require 'urgent and ambitious collective action' (UN SDG 13 - Climate Action).

"JCU students who wish to participate in events on 20 September 2019 are encouraged to discuss the implications of doing so in terms of their university studies with their lecturers.

"Members of staff who wish to participate must discuss this first with their line manager and, subject to approval, are permitted to take leave under the University's Staff Volunteering Leave Scheme. If staff don't have sufficient volunteering leave, they may apply for annual leave."

Head to the Facebook event for more info on the Townsville strike.


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