‘Make the earth cool again’

By Ivy Jensen

ZOE and Ella Hickey are only 13 and 11 but they’re already standing up for what they believe in.

And they abandoned their classrooms to do it.

The Moama girls took the day off school on March 15 to take part in the climate strike protest in Melbourne, joining about 20,000 others calling for urgent action on climate change.

‘‘The experience was very alive,’’ Zoe, who attends St Joseph’s’s College, said.

‘‘We really felt connected to everyone and felt like you belonged because we’re all fighting for the same thing. We’re all very different but we’re also very similar.’’

The sisters, who brought a friend each to the protest, held placards which read ‘We speak for the trees’, ‘There is no Planet B’ and ‘Make the earth cool again’, demanding no new coal or gas projects, stopping the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, and moving to 100 per cent renewable by 2030.

‘‘We did it because it’s our future and it’s what we have to deal with when we’re older so we need to raise awareness of it,’’ Zoe said.

‘‘I liked the fact that they included a lot about respecting Aboriginal people because this is their land. So the mining companies and everything that’s going wrong is affecting their land that they’ve been protecting for years and years. It’s horrible what all the pollution is doing to the land and the rest of the world.’’

Ella, who attends St Mary’s Primary School, said going to the protest was more important than missing a day of school.

‘‘We’d rather not learn for one day than have no future,’’ she said.

‘‘This is real, it’s not just a theory and it’s annoying because for so long adults knew about this and they didn’t decide to save us.

‘‘They knew the ice caps were melting and the sea levels will rise and they didn’t do anything.

‘‘We want the rest of the world to understand that we are in danger and it is inevitable, unless we try to do something about it before it becomes irreversible.’’

Zoe agreed.

‘‘The future is a little more important than missing one Friday,’’ she said.

‘‘I’d rather take a day off school for something that’s going to affect our lives greatly. I’d rather raise awareness and try to support everyone else in it instead of going to one day of school.

‘‘I would like to encourage others to start caring about what’s actually happening because it’s already affecting the world and the longer we let it go on, it’s just going to get worse.’’

The sisters have been interested in activism since they were young.

‘‘Mum and dad taught us a lot about what was going on in the world,’’ Ella said.

Mum Jeanette, who is from Denmark, said the family had been involved in Echuca’s Rural Australian for Refugees for some time.

‘‘It’s about trying to get people out of detention centres offshore like Nauru and Manus and get them into Australia if they have been granted a proper Visa and if there’s no security risk,’’ she said.

Jeanette’s daughters now share her passion about the refugee crisis, as well as feminism, racial rights and equality.

‘‘We go to the Palm Sunday marches every year,’’ Zoe said.

Jeanette said she was extremely proud of her daughters for taking the day off school for a cause close to their hearts.

‘‘I think it’s very important and when you hear the politicians talk about how terrible it is to skip one day of school because of the learning they’re missing out on, some of the protesters put it in perspective when they had signs that said ‘we had Monday off for a horse race’,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve got days off for the Melbourne Cup and grand final day and no-one seems to have any problems with having those days off from school whatsoever, but when kids go out to be active for a big topic that is going to eventually have quite a profound effect on them, it seems to be an issue.’’