• Protect Country protest, Brisbane (Supplied)
COMMENT | "As a young Aboriginal woman, everything I know about my culture is about looking after our land and looking after each other. They’re one in the same. But right now, it’s getting harder and harder to fulfill these cultural responsibilities." But we can't just sit by, says environmentalist and Protect Country Seed Summit organiser, Amelia Telford.
By
Amelia Telford

7 Apr 2016 - 1:26 PM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2016 - 9:38 AM

As the destruction of our country continues and oceans and temperatures rise, it’s time for our people to rise up to the challenge that the causes and impacts of climate change present.

Young mob from the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network are doing exactly that. We are building a grassroots movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people working to protect country from climate change and fossil fuel extraction.

Next month we’ll be coming together for the Protect Country Seed Summit in Sydney to share skills, stories and plans for action. Whether you’re from the bush, the desert, the city or the sea, you can join us and help us make it possible.

With more than half the population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population under 35, it’s our young people who are inheriting the consequences of our actions today.

We can play a huge role in building solutions that work for our communities. It’s time for people who are impacted by decisions to be at the table, putting communities, country and culture first.

Climate change challenges life as we all know it - and the way we deal with it determines how we live, where we live and if we live. At the core to this crisis is the loss of country, culture and the lives of Indigenous peoples in Australia and across the world. Every ounce of coal, gas and oil that is dug up and fuels this crisis is another loss for our people.

Despite being one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world and being home to the oldest living culture that survived sustainably and in harmony with the land for generations, the Australian Government is taking us backwards whilst the rest of the world comes to terms with the expenses of inaction on climate change.  

You only have to look as far as recent recent decisions to approve projects like Adani’s Carmichael coal mine against the will of Traditional Owners and in the face of devastating coral bleaching of Great Barrier Reef, to see the heartless attitude the Australian Government is taking to global warming.

What’s more, it’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who are the ones that face the brunt of the extreme weather events, the ones who are feeling the health impacts and the ones who continue to face the destruction of culture and the land that we have looked after for generations. It’s not fair and it’s not right.

The decisions we make today impacts the lives of people all across the world. We can’t afford to let the Government and their friends in the fossil fuel industry get away with this recklessness. It’s time to stand up, come together and show them what true leadership looks like.

As a young Aboriginal woman, everything I know about my culture is about looking after our land and looking after each other. They’re one in the same. But right now, it’s getting harder and harder to fulfil these cultural responsibilities.

But we can’t sit by. We need to rise up. Will you join us?

If you’re a deadly young blackfulla interested in getting involved, or if you know others who might be, check out the Protect Country summit where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people will be coming together from April 29 to May 2 in Sydney. Head to seedmob.org.au/summit to sign up!

Whether you’re black or not, we’re challenging our volunteers and supporters to go without something they love - like coffee, chocolate or beer from April 11-24 and to get their friends and family to support them through small donations that go a long way. Head here to sign up. 100% of donations raised by Seed teams goes directly towards supporting young mob and building our campaigns to protect country.

Imagine a world where the lives of all people are valued equally, where together we stand up for each other despite the colour of our skin, the amount of money in our pockets, or whether the problem is in my backyard or yours. Right now this world is only a part of our vision - it’s up to us to create it. Sign up now: seedmob.org.au/summit

Amelia Telford is a young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from the Minjungbal clan of the Bundjalung country (North Coast of NSW) and is the National Director of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. 

Got something to say this National Youth Week? Join the conversation with the hashtag #NYW2016