Gabrielle Dewsbury is 16 years old and helps organise the Launceston School Strike for Climate in Tasmania. She talked to Saffia Farr about how and why she became involved.
My life My Way - Gabrielle Dewsbury
How did you first join in the School
Strike for Climate movement? I got involved last year, just a couple of weeks before the 27 November strike. I got an email from Australian Youth
Climate Coalition (AYCC)
explaining what Greta
Thunberg was doing and how Australia was keen to get on board and back her. So I emailed back and asked where my closest strike was going to be, which was Hobart. I helped in organising a few things with the Hobart strike, just joining team calls and relaying messages.
What struck you about your first strike? I saw the amazing, positive and extremely empowering vibe racing between the young people. I was inspired and after the success of the first strike I was already excited for what was next.
What was next for you? Just over a month before the 15 March strike I pulled together a few passionate representatives from different schools in Launceston and suddenly we had a core team. I play an active role in communicating on a national level between other states and making sure our local strike is on the same page as everyone else. The 15 March strike in Launceston was a huge success and from there we’ve gained more momentum for future actions.
What do you say to those who say you should be at school? I ask them what is more important: a couple hours of lesson at school, or the chance to change the course of history? The chance to speak out about the single biggest crisis that humanity has ever faced? The chance to learn about Australian democracy and exercise my right to speak? The School Strike 4 Climate is not merely students ‘wagging’ school – it is a learning opportunity of a lifetime that will teach us far more than any classroom. If those so-called leaders sitting up in our parliament had listened when they went to school, then we wouldn’t be in this position: we wouldn’t need to choose between our education and a safe future. If the Australian government stopped ignoring the warnings from climate academics and scientists, then there would be no need for me to even consider striking from school.
What inspires you most to strike? I was first inspired to strike by the amazing Greta Thunberg. Her story of coming out against climate inaction in Sweden is incredible and will always be something to look up to. She has taught us that we have a voice and we have the power to create real change in our ever-deteriorating environment.
What would you say to other students thinking to get involved? Why not? Grab a friend and turn out to our next strike to be a part of some real change, to be a part of something more. If there ever was a time to have your name written in the history books, that time is now.
What is the core message that you try to get across to those who engage with you? Climate change is very real. We are in the middle of a climate crisis – rabid bushfires, century floods, smashing tornados, killer droughts. Australian communities are already paying the costs of climate inaction. We can’t continue down a road of natural disasters, extinctions of animal species, rising of sea levels any longer! We need urgent climate action. We need political leaders to listen. We may be 0% of their voters, but we are 100% of our future, so they need to start listening.
What worries you most about climate change? I’m worried that by 2020 over twothirds of our wildlife will have become extinct. I’m worried that my children won’t be able to experience the natural beauty of Tasmania, or even know what a coral reef is. I’m worried that unemployment rates will skyrocket to unforeseen numbers because of all of the jobs that rely on a safe climate. I’m worried that by 2060 there will be over 160 million refugees due to the effects of climate change. But most of all I’m terrified because all of these effects of climate change are going to become irreversible by 2030.
What do you see as the next step? The road to a safe and stable climate is long, but even longer when we have uncooperative governments. Over 100,000 young Australians will continue to risk their education until we see sufficient climate action. We are fierce, empowered, diverse, educated young people who want a safe future for all, and no one can stop us now.