• Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovener at a small gathering of school students take part in Fund Our Futures Not Gas climate rally in Sydney. (AAP)Source: AAP
More than 500 small protests were held today, calling for a move towards renewable energy and Indigenous-led decision making when it comes to protecting Country.
Keira Jenkins

25 Sep 2020 - 4:00 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2020 - 5:33 PM

Calls for action on climate change were heard today as 500 small protests were held across the country, as part of a national day of action against gas.

School students gathered alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activists, holding placards and chanting, in small numbers, abiding by COVID-19 rules.

Will Potter, a Gunggari man from the Blue Mountains in NSW, told NITV News demonstrators wanted to see a move to renewable energy and Aboriginal-led decision making when it comes to protecting Country.

"We want land rights and protection of country so that Indigenous mob can say 'no, it's not okay for you to take this country from us'," he said.

"We've had this land for tens of thousands of years, it's not okay for you to just blow it up and ruin it.

"If we had stronger protection of land and Country then a lot of these proposals wouldn't be able to go ahead without our support."

Although protests could only be held in small numbers due to the coronavirus restrictions, Mr Potter said it was important to continue to draw attention to the ongoing climate crisis.

"Even through the COVID crisis we have that climate crisis still continuing," he said.

"Not only do bushfires and droughts disproportionately affect mob across Australia but also the extraction process is also really bad for mob, especially in central Australia.

"You look at the Betaloo and McCarthur Basins which Scott Morrison has just in the last few weeks put as a priority. 

"We know this is really going to impact communities out there."

'Born into the struggle'

Gomeroi woman Linda Whitten spoke at a protest in the Sydney CBD. She said her Country is under threat from mining by three different companies. 

"My family have been fighting for Country for nearly two decades now," she said.

"I was born into the struggle like all of us are. We are currently fighting Shenhua, we have been continually fighting Whitehaven Coal and of course now we have Santos, applying pressure, turning the screws, wanting to move in on our land."

Following the destruction of ancient rock shelters at Juukan Gorge earlier this year, the NSW Parliament passed a motion to protect sacred sites on the Shenhua Watermark mine in Western NSW.

Ms Whitten said Gomeroi people are still fighting to have their significant sites and artefacts protected.

"We've jumped through the hoops, they've moved the goal posts, we've exhausted legal avenues when it comes to Shenhua," she said.

She also wants to see Aboriginal land handed back to Traditional Owners in order to protect it.

"Enough is enough," she said.

"We have no access to practice our cultural obligations and responsibilities and these mob seem to think they can just move in, take over and just obliterate us.

"It's about time you gave us back our land. Give us back our land and we'll show you what to do with it but first of all we've got to mitigate the damage already done."

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