‘The end of the world is more important than school’

Thousands rally for climate change action in Melbourne. (Photo: Genet Tezera)

Melbourne’s CBD came to a standstill when a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 joined the Global Climate Strike. Genet Berhane and Lachlan Keller were there.

The Melbourne protest on September 20 was part of the international movement founded by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish student who staged a protest outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018.

Students accompanied by parents and friends traded in their books for banners and posters as they chanted and marched in protest against government inaction.

“I feel the end of the world is more important than school,” said Kate Keenan, an 18-year-old student who skipped school to attend the rally.

The crowd – which dwarfed an earlier round of protests back in March – made its way down to Collins and Russell streets and eventually onto Flinders Street.

Despite the undeniable presence of young people, older members of the community also attended the rally.

Marilyn Richards, 72, said: “We are the people and we need to have our say, it’s not good enough. We need a properly run earth with human rights and all the other things we have come to expect from a modern society.”

This sentiment was echoed by 69-year-old Ruth Miller, who said she joined the protest because she believed  her grandchildren should grow up healthy on a thriving planet.

Banners focused on the need for action. (Photo: Genet Tezera)
Protesters from the Japanese community showing their support. (Photo:Genet Tezera)

John, an employee at a company that manufactures conveyor belts for coal mines, said protesters needed to understand that many people relied on coal-related industries.

“People currently working in these industries do not love coal, but we need secure jobs, fair pay and good conditions to build decent lives with our families,” he said.