My family and I joined the Fridays for Future and school strike on the 25 March in Bairnsdale. About a dozen others were there and we spaced ourselves along the centre strip besides the highway with our various signs – ‘Toot for Climate Action’ “Vote Climate’ and ‘Climate Action Now’ predominated. The large ‘Logging is Criminal in a Climate Emergency’ banner also made a welcome reappearance.
I sat in a chair beside the east-bound lanes and spent some time sitting with, and talking to Audrey Porter. Now in her 90s I have known Audrey since the 1980s when we were both active in the Bairnsdale People for Nuclear Disarmament, sometime called the Bairnsdale Peace group. We got lots of toots and one or two outbursts of verbal abuse, barely audible above heavy revving engines. ‘Get a job’ one comic screamed, little considering the applicability of their unimaginative abuse to two old age pensioners – one a nonagenarian.
The age spread of the demonstrators and the lack of youth was one criticism that could fairly levelled at the event. There was just one student with his mother amongst us. This contrasted dramatically with the student strike and demonstration of three years ago when about 200 students marched from Nagle College and the High School to the Rotunda in the town centre. A lack of strong student leaders, intense organisation, and publicity, along with parental support seem to have been the main differences between these events. However, it was somewhat dispiriting to see the school buses passing by, emphasizing the total lack of support from this quarter.
On the positive side there were a number of new people joined us which was encouraging. Last Friday highlights the need for us to reinvigorate student action if we can. How this can be done is the big question.