Hi everyone. This is my first blog post for #AusVotes2019. I thought it was going to be a very different piece.

My 13-year-old daughter and I went to the student-climate-change-rally in Perth on Friday despite the current prime minister urging kids ‘to stay in class rather than protesting things that can be dealt with outside of school.’ I was there to witness and report back to you with inspiring pictures like these:

The West Australian newspaper estimated the crowd number was about 2000 and at least half of them were students. I witnessed mums and dads, preachers and progressive politicians standing side-by-side our kids, guarding and supporting them. I remembering being heartened to see so many young people there experiencing the connection between the democracy lessons they had learned in the classroom and their right to protest being enacted as a real-life experience.

A highlight for me was when two young women came to the ‘stage’ and sang a beautiful protest song to the encouraging, respectful crowd. Then we practiced chanting various phrases including: Earth cannot be bought and sold, life is worth much more than gold!

But, at almost the same time as hundreds of Perth kids, teenagers and young adults started marching down the street to peacefully and non-violently call for action on climate change, one of our fellow Australians marched into a mosque in New Zealand and began shooting his disgusting deeds live on Facebook.

I am not going to spend any more time than I can writing about that terrorist, but I have now read his manifesto and I have decided to share two quotes:

“I had little interest in education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade. I did not attend University, as I had no great interest in anything offered in the Universities to study…

“From where did [I] develop [my] belief? The internet, of course. You will not find the truth anywhere else.”

I think the gunman’s views are heartbreakingly incorrect. I think schools have the capacity to be interesting and stimulating places where our students can learn to be critical consumers of information and tolerant, peaceful citizens.

I have three suggestions that federal and state governments could do to help schools reach those aspirations:

  • well fund and encourage enrolment in everyone’s local public school, which will help teach children how to make friends and work together with people of different races, class, religion and gender
  • elevate the status of the humanities in schools by making the time spent on learning about history, democracy and civics at least equal to the time spent on maths and language
  • listen rather than dismiss the growing messages the young generations are sending us and show them that their concerns are valid and well learned from their science classes.

I do not know if the above suggestions will help, but what I do know is that I let my daughter ‘skip’ school between recess and lunchtime on Friday and I am so very, very thankful I got to take her back to school.

I write my condolences and grief stricken sympathy that at that time on that same Friday in Christchurch too many Muslim children and their parents were not so lucky.