Empowering Youth Voices

Carmelo Fedele Head of Sustainability recently shared information and resources on the Duty of Care inquiry by Anjali Sharma and David Pocock with students. Mr Fedele’s lesson incentivised and inspired two IGS Year 10 Commerce students in particular, Lilla Smyth Langdon and Lachlan Berton, who decided to write and submit messages in support of the inquiry.

Mr Fedele explains, “I have been following Anjali Sharma’s climate activism journey since her involvement in School Strike 4 Climate. Her courage and intelligence are inspiring, particularly for young people who feel anxious about climate change. So when I heard that she was working with independent senator David Pockock I decided to share it with my Year 10 Commerce class as an example of how the legal system can be used for environmental and social justice. Several students decided to contribute their voices to the Duty of Care Bill.”

The resources were designed to help students understand the bill, its history, and (most importantly) to write submissions to the official inquiry into the “Duty of Care” bill introduced to parliament by independent senator, David Pocock on 3 August 2023. This is a great way to help young people understand the role of parliament and how laws are made. Additionally, Mr Fedele also took students to the TedX Youth event to watch Anjali Sharma speak about climate action. 

The bill aims to introduce two additional criteria to judgments rendered under six prevailing statutes, such as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Specifically, the focus is on decisions supporting the funding and advancement of initiatives with potential adverse effects on the climate.

Lilla Smyth Langdon’s letter

My name is Lilla Smyth Langdon, I am a 16 year old student currently attending International Grammar School. I am writing this letter to express my enthusiasm and support for the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill 2023. As a young person I am relying on the government to leave me, (as well as the generations succeeding me) with a healthy, thriving earth. At the moment that is not happening. Climate change is accelerating at a rate never seen before, and as a young person it is often easy to feel helpless. This legislation would provide me with a peace of mind that I will be able to enjoy my future instead of being left with a world that is uninhabitable. This submission is my way of expressing my political views on climate change as I am not yet old enough to vote, but nevertheless I want the government to hear my opinions on their current climate policies. So, on behalf of me and all other young people, please, please, create legislation that will protect my planet, and consequently my future.

Lachlan Berton’s letter

“My name is Lachlan Berton and I am a 15 year old and I live in Sydney New South Wales and I attend International Grammar School. When I am older I want to be a chef and own some of my own restaurants but I am worried if I will be able to because of the direction climate change is heading. I love this planet and how beautiful it is but that is being ruined also and I really don’t want to lose the planet to climate change. As a young person I am relying on the government to take some responsibility for the detrimental effects they have caused and I am also relying on understanding that they have a duty of care and hopefully this legislation can enforce that. I don’t know how the government still lets big companies and coal mines produce so many carbon emissions that are just being ignored as the main cause of climate change. Please, for the sake of kids like me who want to have a future that is not unbearably hot every day, I want there to be a place where I can open my own restaurants that are not polluted by carbon dioxide. Don’t let this bill die because a duty of care will go a very long way.”

IGS’s commitment to holistic education extends beyond textbooks, and this recent engagement of our students with the Duty of Care inquiry exemplifies this approach. By getting involved in real-world issues and participating in civic processes, our students are not just learning about laws but actively contributing to the cause. This initiative underscores the importance of fostering an environment that encourages critical thinking and social responsibility. Special thanks to  Mr Fedele for inspiring and supporting our students.