• Young mo on the frontline: Seed Mob have big plans for 2021 (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The country's Indigenous youth-led climate network is going independent, and shares their plans for 2021.
Rachael Hocking

1 Dec 2020 - 3:12 PM  UPDATED 1 Dec 2020 - 3:22 PM

‘All around the world sea levels are rising, and so are First Nations people.’

Those are the opening words of a new video released by Seed Mob, who announced on Tuesday they will become “Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led environmental organisation”.

Since 2014, Seed has made a name for itself as a group of young people on the frontline of the climate crisis: just last year Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio shared a photo of one of their actions on Instagram, staging a sit-in at Parliament House to call for an end to fracking, coal mining and water sharing.

But rather than being independent, Seed has existed as a program of the non-Indigenous led Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).

The group’s National Director, Bundjalung woman Amelia Telford, told NITV News that the crises of 2020 - the global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement - had contributed to the decision to become their own organisation.

“There’s this great imbalance that’s happening in the world right now where mother nature is sending us a message,” she said.

“For us that meant we were able to sit back and do some reflection, and think about what this moment right now means, what the future looks like and what we need to do to have the biggest impact we can.

“I think that’s where this decision for Seed to become independent has come from.”

Seed’s new look will include an all First Nations board and expanding their team of paid staff, as well as volunteers. The organisation says it will need to raise $500k by the end of the year to fund the transition.

What will the fight for climate justice look like in 2021?

As an independent organisation, Seed says it will continue to push back against gas fracking, coal mining and call for stronger cultural heritage protections in 2021.

Yanyuwa and Garawa man Nicholas Milyari Fitzpatrick lives in Borroloola and is Seed’s Remote Community Organiser in the NT.

He said his focus next year will be on travelling to remote NT communities and sharing information about gas fracking that is otherwise not widely available to community mob.

“Here in the NT we’re at that point where the young people we understand the white man’s tongue, this science, we understand what’s going on around the planet with social media,” he said.

“The main job for Seed is giving Indigenous remote people a voice.”

While gas exploration has resumed in the NT, with drilling in the Beetaloo Basin underway, Mr Fitzpatrick is also keen to support his Gomeroi brothers and sisters in NSW who are fighting the recent approval of Santos’ Narrabri gas project.

This Thursday, thousands intend to march in capital cities across the country in solidarity with Gomeroi Traditional Owners opposing the $3.6 billion project, which would see up to 850 wells drilled in the Pilliga forest in north-central NSW.

The group leading the protests is a collective of young people organising under the banner Gamilaraay Next Generation.

Mr Fitzpatrick says it’s another example of young people taking their future into their own hands.

“We have to lead the way. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

A global fight

Seed Mob’s vast volunteer base have been responsible for small and large-scale actions over the past six years. 

In 2014, they joined the Pacific Climate Warriors in a flotilla action: sitting on traditional canoes, kayaks and surf boards to block the Newcastle coal port for an entire day.

By 2017 the group was taking over Canberra regularly – one action included hundreds of lanterns spelling out, ‘Land Rights not Mining Rights’ on Parliament’s lawns. 

Their ‘Water is Life’ mantra has been shared widely through a 2018 documentary which explored the impact fracking has had on North Dakota communities in the United States.

It highlighted their fears for communities like Boroloola in the Northern Territory, which now face drilling since the NT’s fracking ban was lifted.

Ms Telford said the fight for climate justice has been strengthened by the global Black Lives Matter movement.

“The death of George Floyd highlighted what our communities have known for far too long in this country in terms of how our people are treated, and that our lives don’t matter,” she said.

“We need to be not only listened to, and we not only need a seat at the table to make decisions about issues that impact us, but we also need to create our own tables.”

“Get ready for 2021, because there’s a role for everyone to play.”  

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