The Power of Youth – Addressing BIG Weather Challenges

Last Tuesday, we had a fantastic gathering at The Station Café in Maryborough around “Building the Future | Young People Taking the Lead”.

An afternoon filled with inspiring conversation, insightful perspectives & a lot of optimism about the future. This event, as part of our broader initiative “Let’s Talk About BIG Weather” – focused on the perspectives & experiences of young people, around climate change, as well as their involvement in possible solutions.

Read more below, or register for our next gatherings HERE

Insights from Young Leaders

We were thrilled to hear from several amazing young leaders, each bringing their personal stories & insights for a sustainable future:

  • Kelsey MacDonald from the Central Victorian Youth Climate Network shared how climate anxiety affects many young people. Kelsey said talking to others & taking actions that resonate with personal values, can help overcome this anxiety, but this can also be overwhelming.  Kelsey highlighted the importance of communities connecting with youth groups like YCN, with new opportunities for young people, to get involved
  • Jamille McKenzie, also from the Youth Climate Network, reminded us that while figures like Greta Thunberg are inspiring, every young person can contribute in their own unique way without the pressure of filling someone else’s shoes. She advised that to involve young people, we must ensure that we ask them how they want to be involved, & provide options that are flexible & don’t take too much time
  • Sam Kane President of the Golden Square Pool, shared his inspiring journey from participating in a community campaign to save a local pool at just 14, to leading the project into a thriving community hub with 90+ active volunteers. He demonstrated the potential of youth-led community resilience & encouraged groups to involve families with kids at a young age in volunteering opportunities within their communities
  • Saf Rowe shared her personal experience with bushfires, reinforcing her dedication to learning more & actively participating in sustainability initiatives & climate action activities

Tapping Into Local Wisdom 

During the event, we were all invited to ponder some big questions:

What positive change will we see from the next generation of leaders?

How can we include young people in our own projects, organizations & decision-making processes?

Some specific responses included:

  • More education around sustainability & climate action should be integrated into the curriculum, starting from primary school
  • Local wisdom should be used more effectively; listening to people who remember the past can help inform future actions
  • Voting age considerations & how older generations can assist young people in realizing their ideas
  • Schools should rethink how they engage students in advocacy roles, possibly by reducing traditional homework to free up time for community involvement
  • Personal invitations & follow-ups could encourage more young people to contribute by allowing them to engage in activities they enjoy
  • Decision-making processes should be considerate of future generations, ensuring that young people’s involvement is meaningful & impactful
  • The use of storytelling to connect community members & share passion for climate action & community resilience.

Uncovering Existing Groups & New Ideas

Initiatives & organisations mentioned by those in attendance included:

  • Youth Climate Network: A platform for climate-curious young people, delivering events & content focused on climate resilience & sustainability. (Contact: [email protected], Instagram: @youthclimatenetwork)
  • Girl Guides Central Goldfields: Their program emphasises advocacy for change, actively engaging girls in climate & community action. (Contact: @guidesvic.org.au)
  • Repair Café Maryborough: An idea to start this local initiative promoting repair & reuse to reduce waste & foster community skill-sharing. (Contact: [email protected])
  • Landcare: Opportunities discussed included engaging more young people in Landcare projects to support local ecosystems & resilience. (Contact: [email protected])
  • Zonta International: Advocating for gender-equal climate action through ‘Zonta Says Now’ initiative (Website: Zontasaysnow.org.au)
  • Maryborough Community Gardens: Proposed revitalization of covered drains into green spaces for community gardens, enhancing local climate resilience.
  • Community Fire Guards: Reviving neighbourhood schemes to enhance community readiness & response on extreme fire danger days.
  • Maryborough Education Centre: VCE Volunteering Management subject focusing on teamwork, leadership & volunteering in schools, a great vehicle for encouraging a volunteering mentality among students

Outcomes & Next Steps

We wrapped up the formal part of the event but kept the conversations going. Everyone was encouraged to engage with our interactive survey, get their photo taken with our “What Do You Reckon?” signs & stay for a chat over refreshments.

The energy & ideas we shared are just the beginning. We’re excited to keep these conversations alive & assist to integrate many of the fantastic insights gained, into making our communities more resilient & sustainable. Stay tuned for our upcoming events & workshops & let’s keep making important change, together!

Many thanks to everyone who joined us & contributed to making this event a success. Special thanks to our speakers, attendees & the community, for showing up & sharing your passion & ideas. Let’s keep this momentum going & continue to inspire each other!

To share your own experiences about BIG weather visit: HERE

To register for our next local gatherings visit: HERE

This gathering is part of Let’s Talk About BIG Weather – raising awareness for & supporting the development of local solutions to the impacts of extreme weather. This project is supported by FRRR, through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund. To find out more visit www.makeachange.org.au/big-weather