In March 2019 over 150,000 Australian school students went on strike to demand action on climate change. They risked their studies to unite their generation, while still doing their homework.
Youth on Strike! is the story of how young Australians defied calls to stay in school and organised one of the largest youth-led movements Australia has ever seen, told by twelve students who vlogged the whole thing. From Townsville to Western Sydney, Adelaide to Melbourne, these young people share their stories of who they are and capture what it took to organise a movement. Using only footage recorded by the students, this is their story, unfiltered and in their voice, this is Youth on Strike!.
Inspired by Greta Thunberg in Sweden, the first student strike for climate change back in 2018 was quickly organised in Australia with the help of adults. But this time, the students took it on themselves to show what young people can do.
Across three episodes, we discover the challenges of keeping a youth movement youth-led, how generalisations of this generation are wrong, how students balanced school and the strike work, why young people should be able to vote, and how to get the message about climate change out there. For these students, success is everything. They haven’t put this much work, effort, tears and sweat into the movement for nothing. And they have a point to prove: they can do this without the adults.
The story begins one month out and we follow a countdown to the day of the strike, getting to know the students in personal and honest video blogs where they share their experiences, thoughts, feelings and opinions.
You know the result of the strike, you saw the news, now uncover the behind the scenes story and meet some of the students.
In 2010 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) established the Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD) program. It was part of the organisation’s effort to increase climate literacy among young people.
The importance of climate change education was later reinforced by Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, which Australia and other countries signed in 2016. Under the Paris Agreement Work Program, countries have agreed to develop education programs about climate change.
The discussion of action is a central aspect of climate change education programs.
Youth on Strike! is relevant to the teaching of students in Years 7 – 12.
- Climate change
- Climate justice
- Individual and collective action on climate change
- Political action on climate change
- Youth activism
Australian Curriculum Learning Areas
- Humanities and Social Sciences
Teachers are advised to consult the Australian curriculum online at http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ and curriculum outlines relevant to their state or territory.
Australian Curriculum General Capabilities – Critical and Creative Thinking
The Australian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and Creative Thinking recognises that students need to learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Responding to the challenges of climate change provides opportunities for students to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable.
Teachers are advised to access further information about the Critical and Creative Thinking general capability online at <https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/critical-and-creative-thinking/>.
Australian Curriculum Cross-Curriculum Prioritie – Sustainability
Youth on Strike! can be used as a resource in multi-disciplinary projects at a secondary level to teach the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority. The Australian Curriculum places emphasis on Sustainability as a priority for study:
‘Education for sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It enables individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. Sustainability education is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence.’
Teachers are advised to access further information about the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority at <https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/cross-curriculum-priorities/sustainability/>.
For students in Years 11 – 12, Youth on Strike! has particular relevance to units of work in Australian Politics, English, Environmental Science, Geography and Global Politics. Teachers should access the senior curriculum syllabus documents for their state or territory.
Activities in this study guide provide opportunities for students to make a close reading of Youth on Strike!. In doing so, students will:
• explore and reflect on their personal understanding of climate change as an issue of local, national and global significance;
• understand the impacts of climate change at a local, national and global level;
• examine both climate change and climate action from a historical perspective;
• develop a knowledge and understanding of the growth and influence of the climate change movement within Australia and overseas;
• investigate significant people, events and campaigns that have contributed to popular awareness of climate change;
• analyse the responses of governments and organisations to environmental threats;
• explore opportunities to contribute to adapting to and reducing the impact of climate change on everyday life;
• generate ideas for further study and/or action based upon their learning;
• create a wide range of texts, make presentations and contribute actively to class and small group discussions.
Teachers are encouraged to use the links provided in the Resources section of this study guide to access curriculum units and lessons about climate change, climate justice and climate action.