Photography Daphne Nguyen

Young Australians sound off on the bushfire crisis

Last week tens of thousands of Australians rallied across the country in protest of the country's bushfire crisis and climate inaction. Here’s what they had to say.

by John Buckley
|
Jan 13 2020, 4:24am

Photography Daphne Nguyen

For more than a month now, large swathes of Australia has been ravaged by bushfires. With flames incinerating more total area than the recent California, Amazon, and Siberian fires combined, the world is watching on as Australia experiences one of the most catastrophic climate disasters ever seen.

While Australians have rallied together to face the disaster through fundraising and community action, they are still, understandably, sad and angry about the bushfire crisis. In particular the country's conservative government and lack of action on climate change has become the focus of many frustrations. On a sweaty Friday afternoon last week, tens of thousands of Australians gathered to protest across the country. In Sydney alone, more than 30,000 people from all walks of life turned up to have their voices heard. i-D went along to speak to the young Australians fighting for climate action and ask them what's next for the country.

1578887888673-Sam-and-Suzie-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007598-R1-00-1

Sam, 21 & Suzie, 20

Why are you protesting? We’re protesting for a range of things, but the priority is funding for the RFS, and awareness for the ways regional communities have been affected by climate change-driven bushfires.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? Ignoring evidence based on science, statistics, and the historical patterns of our nation’s flora and fauna is just ignorant and counterintuitive to ensuring a safe future in Australia.

What action would you like to see from the government? Funding for the RFS and the safety of Australian wildlife. I’d like to see more support for regional communities and, of course, the recognition of First Nations people.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? Be aware: read, consciously think, donate, and know that this is real. This isn’t exclusive to Australia — it’s a catastrophe which is happening everywhere.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? Ultimately, yeah. Change is inevitable, but it takes time, and it takes people power.

1578887958570-Hela-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007597-R1-07-8

Hela, 26

Why are you protesting? Because I hate the government, and because I want there to be a better functioning planet.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? We’re all kind of doing it together. I don’t know if anyone is really that far in front of us. The world is just thirsty, fucked and dying.

What action would you like to see from the government? A switch in leadership. I want someone who cares about people; the birds and the bees, and the trees and the ocean. I think it’s been a very long time since we’ve had that.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? Definitely donate to the RFS. That’s probably the priority at the moment.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? I am. I think there’s a lot of fear, naturally. But yeah, I’m hopeful.

1578888161875-Amy-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007597-R1-01-2

Amy, 17

Why are you protesting? Because something needs to be done about the future of Australia. We’re talking about lives being lost, and next to nothing being done about it. I just want to stand with everyone whose futures are at stake.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? I think the community of people that are here, saying that something needs to be done, and to speak up – that’s what they can learn. Unity and community.

What action would you like to see from the government? Just action in general. Even if it’s small steps to start with. Just anything, because at the moment, we aren’t getting shit.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? Even just showing up to these rallies, and thinking about everything from your intake and use of plastics, to things like sustainable fashion. If everyone just plays their part, it’ll make a big difference.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? Yeah, I am. I’m hopeful.

1578888209522-Dana-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007598-R1-06-7

Dana, 24

Why are you protesting? For climate action. Things really need to start happening. The world is literally on fire. Australia is suffering, and we need change now.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? I think if they see other parts of the world on fire, they might start to realise that it could spread. Hopefully the rallying is encouragement as well, and they can see the passion from our generation.

What action would you like to see from the government? I want to see a new Prime Minister, honestly. I want to see support from underneath, and for funding to go to the right places. I want to see a responsible use of resources.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? I mean, we’ve received donations from everyone — so donations are a great start.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? Look, I am hopeful. But I’m scared as well.

1578888346572-Orson-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007598-R1-04-5-1

Orson, 24

Why are you protesting? To be honest, just because I think there needs to be a little more political will from every single person towards what is going on in and around their lives — both politically and socially. At the end of the day, turning up and getting numbers on the board can really show something.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? Action needs to happen really quickly. Things are already pretty bad, and maybe this is just a taste of things to come. I think that we can all do a bit more, personally.

What action would you like to see from the government? I would like to see a bit more direct action right now, even if it hurts us a little bit in the long-run. Something needs to change. The government has become so completely detached and void of anything useful this whole time.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? It would be great to see other countries apply some international pressure to our government. And of course, donate to the RFS. Having worked for the RFS myself, seeing how the guys operate on the ground, and just how fucked they are every single day when they come back from the fires and such. I just know that they need as much support as they can possibly get. Seeing that stuff first hand makes you feel fucked when you know that they’re getting nothing — that they’re not getting paid, they aren’t even getting any time in lieu. It’s just fucked — it makes me want to cry.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? I think so… Obviously we’ve reached a really turbulent point, with this natural disaster, but I’m hopeful that it could become a turning point.

1578888415760-Katherine-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007599-R1-00-1

Katherine, 20

Why are you protesting? I think, clearly, there has been denial. No change has happened, and the fact that we haven’t enabled any climate policy is ridiculous. The fact that it’s going to take the fire reaching [the government’s] doorstep for change to happen, that real change is going to happen. That’s why I’m protesting.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? I think just don’t be superficial about it. A lot of people are just jumping on the bandwagon; posting photos and that sort of thing. But we need to enact change by telling our governments what we want to happen.

What action would you like to see from the government? To be honest, number one is to let the traditional custodians of this land become a part of our government, and be able to tell us what the appropriate measures to make the country a better place are.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? I think the immediate thing people can do is help fund the firies [RFS] and services to help firefighters do what they need to do to stop this country from burning even more.

Are you hopeful for the future of Australia? I think I need to stay hopeful, for the sake of my future, and those younger than me.

1578888476179-Matt-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007597-R1-09-10

Matt, 17

Why are you protesting? I’m protesting for the future of myself and my peers, and for future generations.

What do you think the rest of the world can learn from what’s happening in Australia? They can learn respect for traditional owners of this land, the land that we all live on, and the methods that they use to protect their land, their property, and the country that we live in.

What action would you like to see from the government? More funding, and more effort to get support globally. Because the government has so far refused to push for additional resources from other countries.

How can we all do more to support bushfire action? They can donate, both to the RFS and to help animals that have been affected. They can send food, clothing, everything really.

1578889117455-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007597-R1-00-1
1578888526520-Matt-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007597-R1-08-9-2
1578889147013-DAPHNENGUYEN-20200110-Climate-rally-x-I-D-D007598-R1-08-9

Photography by Daphne Nguyen

Tagged:
Australia
climate change
protest
Sydney
Bushfire
straight ups