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Our Voice: Sustainability Conference for young people by young people 2014


attended by over 400 students involving over 20 schools and pre-schools.

Some highlights from the conference:

Our keynote speaker, Noah Dingle, 6, from Freshwater Steiner School, Victoria shared his experience of raising money to support the survival of the endangered sun bears in Borneo through his fundraiser Noah’s Sun Bear Fundraiser. The children and young people conference participants were inspired by Noah’s endeavours and some students said they would like to do their own environmental initiative too.




CJ Woolbank performing his own songs relating to the environment and sustainability in the opening session.

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Our Graffiti wall

Children and young people facilitated a number of exciting workshops and activities including showcasing sustainable project models, growing foods, establishing worm farms, installing solar cells, protecting threathened species, establishing Koala Corriders, documentaries to highlight sustainable practices, becoming a ‘waste wise’ school, the problems of marine debris, water conservation practices, learning songs about caring for our environment, and films created by students to illustrate the problem of plastics in the environment.

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The children found the interactive workshops very engaging and the teachers and parents thought the conference was a wonderful opportunity for children to come together and share ideas and knowledge!

 activity activity2 activity3 model


On Friday 1st November we had the very first Our Voice: Sustainability conference for young people by young people!

Over 300 students from 17 schools and preschools in the Northern Rivers region came to the Lismore campus at Southern Cross University to share their ideas about the environment and sustainability. The conference was very successful and provided an opportunity for these students to present their ideas with song, story, video, drama, computer virtual worlds, games, various workshops and discussion forums.


Conference participants sharing their ideas about the environment and sustainability on our graffiti wall.

Have a look at the video put together by our preschool participants from Bumblebee Early Education Centre in the following link:

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 11.37.17 pm

We had a ‘snow ball’ game at the closing of the conference where students wrote down things that they wanted to share after attending the conference, then they screwed up the paper and threw it into the crowd for others to read. Here are some comments from students as part of our ‘snow ball’ activity:

“Attending the conference has made me more motivated about the environment and even though I am one person I can be a big help!”

“Everyone can make a difference and with the help of others we can change the world”

Please add a comment to share your experiences 0f the day!

Our inspiring Keynote Speaker – Amelia Telford

Amelia is a young woman (19 years) from the Bundjalung nation (North Coast of NSW) and has a passion to care for and protect the future of our environment. For the keynote speech, Amelia treated the students at our conference to an inspirational account of her work relating to climate change and sustainability. She is now working as the Indigenous coordinator at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition in Melbourne, reaching out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to encourage climate action and provide opportunities for all young people to share their voice about the environment and sustainability. Amelia reflected on her experience as a student at Trinity Catholic College in Lismore, where she became involved with her school environmental committee. This involvement at school level sparked a long-lasting commitment to the climate movement. She presented her photos at the conference of her experience traveling to Antarctica as part of the 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador program that changed her life and her awareness of the impact of climate change. She encouraged the students as part of her presentation at this conference to take action on climate change and to stand up for a safe climate future.


Some of the comments on the ‘snow balls’ relating to Amelia’s speech included: “How inspiring youth are”;  “networking is vital to sustain action”; ”we are not alone”; “we should set up an environmental centre at our school” and ‘small steps equate to change”.

Amelia taught the audience a dance about climate change that was very much enjoyed: A student wrote on a snow ball that one of the most enjoyable things about the conference was learning how to do this dance! Another student said “I like the dance, it was cool!”

Thank you Amelia!

Some activities at ‘Our Voice’ conference

 oliviapaintpaint2paint3Students from Ocean Shores Public School experimenting with hand painting

Students from Evans River K-  12 School presenting a seminar relating to the problem of plastics in the oceans!


A relating snow ball comment: “If we don’t stop littering in oceans, the animals could be endangered”.

Diorama relating to sustainability by Collin’s Creek school

A snow ball comment relating to this seminar:

“I really loved the Collins Creek presentation because I learnt that the average shopping cart travels around the earth at least 2 times”.
“I loved the Collins camp presentation because I leant about food. Food goes a long way and I liked that there were different things to do”.


All schools were given local rainforest trees to plant specific for their area – donated by Dorroughby Environmental Education Centre

and provided by Firewheel Rainforest Nursery


The students wrote their names on hand made seeded paper (Thyme, Oregano and Lettuce seeds).

They took their name badges home and planted them.


Most of the fruit for morning tea was from local farms – see some comments on the student snow balls: “The fruit was nice –  thank you”; “Helping the environment means to get seasonal food”; “I learnt about food miles I was not previously aware of this concept”


Enjoying some rice cooked in the solar oven!


Our friendly platypus who conducted the activities relating to the protection of platypus habitat in our local region!

Children from Cooper’s Creek school observing a live yabby!

Some snow ball comments: ” I liked the Platypus presentation. Platypuses have spurs and males have venomous ones.”

The students were surprised that Platypus can become trapped in Yabby traps and this leads to the death of the platypus!


Students from Main Arm Public School thinking about how they can save water!

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Bexhill Primary school students participating in the conference activities and seminars

Photos by David Rousell and Maia Osborn

Have a look at all the snow ball and Graffiti wall comments together:

Our Voice – voice

See also a link to an article by David Rousell about the conference in the Byron Echo :