Australian School Students Have Gone On Strike For Climate Change

    Australian students turned out for the Global Climate Strike.

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    Tens of thousands of Australian students skipped school on Friday to demand politicians take action on climate change.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    The 60 rallies throughout the country are part of the Global Climate Strike movement, with students from around the world holding protests on the same day.

    In Sydney, Town Hall square was packed with students of all ages.

    There are a — and I can’t stress this enough — lot of students here at the Sydney #ClimateStrike and they are making heaps of noise as the rally gets underway.

    They were calling on the government to take immediate action to halt climate change.

    Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

    Olis, Catriona, Audrey and Ollie, all 17, told BuzzFeed News they just want the government to "do something".

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    "Just something," Ollie told BuzzFeed News. "Anything's better than what's happening now," added Audrey.

    Audrey said they skipped English to be at the rally, which was "empowering people".

    "We're all here together, it's a good feeling."

    Some of protesters were very young — like Vincent, who is four months old.

    The youngest protester here might be Vincent (4 months)

    BuzzFeed News

    His dad told BuzzFeed News it was Vincent's first rally, but probably not his last.

    Others were no longer at school, but wanted to support the students.

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    Raquel and Stephanie, both 19, are university students. "Seeing kids who are coming out here and sacrificing a day of education, the least we could do as university students on a Friday when we don't have class is to come out and show our support," Raquel told BuzzFeed News.

    "Half the Great Barrier Reef is gone and each year the heatwaves are increasing by mass amounts. We're not politicians, we can't make massive changes, but just show them that your youth is screaming at you; I think that says something."

    The forthcoming federal election is the first in which they'll be able to vote. "I think that these strikes are so integral to a child's forming of opinions. I think it's an amazing way in our first year to vote to learn from kids like this," Raquel said.

    "We're so super excited to get our say in the vote this time. We have been waiting for so long to have our say for our future, and now's the time," Stephanie said.

    They made signs.

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    Bettina, 17, said climate change was an issue "that we need to solve for future generations, not just our own, because it's not going to get any better if we don't make a change."

    Some of them, like 15-year-old Eleanor, also went to the last climate strike in November.

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    Eleanor, from Sydney's inner suburbs, said she was skipping class with lots of other people from her school because "politicians aren't taking enough action against climate change to save our planet." She wants the government to stop developing coal mines.

    Asked what she thought of politicians who said kids should go to school instead of protesting, she replied: "I say that they aren't taking enough action for us not to."

    The Melbourne strike also drew thousands of students.

    Huge crowd at Melbourne #ClimateStrike

    Bella and Calum, both 16, told BuzzFeed News they wanted the government to stop the Adani coal mine, stop building coal mines, and switch to all renewables by 2030.

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    "Politicians should recognise that we don't have much time left and this is our future," Bella said. "Saying that we're wagging school is frankly ridiculous. We have good reason to not be at school."

    Mai, 17, said her teachers — especially science teachers — were supportive of her attending the rally.

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    "Climate change is real, and I feel like politicians just don't get that," she said.

    "I just love Shawn Mendes," she added. "It's kind of an excuse to expose everyone to how hot he is. I think it's a good way to draw attention to the issue."

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    Simrin and Loren said it was their "duty" to go out and fight for change.

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    "At our school we get taught to be global citizens and I think that's what this means," said Loren, right.

    Some of the signs were frankly terrifying.

    BuzzFeed News
    BuzzFeed News

    There were also rallies in Adelaide...

    Mark Brake / AAPIMAGE

    and Brisbane...

    Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

    ...and dozens of other places throughout Australia.

    Dean Lewins / AAPIMAGE

    Hannah Ryan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Hannah Ryan at hannah.ryan@buzzfeed.com.

    Lane Sainty is the editor of BuzzFeed News in Australia and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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