Our World Our Say: National survey of children and young people on climate change and disaster risk

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Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience,Australian Red Cross,Oaktree,Plan International,Save the Children Australia,UNICEF Australia,World Vision International

The release of this youth survey report on climate change and disaster risk takes place in the context of a global pandemic and in the wake of national and state inquiries into the devastating Australian ‘Black Summer’ bushfire season of 2019/2020.

From February to April 2020, approximately 1500 children and young people aged between 10 and 24 years participated in an online survey on climate change, natural hazards and disaster risk in Australia. The survey was co-designed by young people and organisations working with young people in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. It included 27 questions on climate change, natural hazards and disaster risk, with questions designed to identify children and young people’s priorities for action by decision makers.

There has not been a national consultation with young people on climate change and disaster risk of this scope before. A representative panel of young people assisted in the data analysis, and you can find their commentary throughout the report.

The survey data presented in this report indicates that young people are deeply concerned about climate change. They are concerned about how climate change will impact their own lives and even more concerned about impacts that are far-reaching and universal. Young people are aware that there are many factors that affect climate change and that it is important to tackle these issues collectively.

The data indicates that not only are young people in Australia experiencing natural hazards, but that they are experiencing them more often. Young people are telling Australia that although their education has had a strong focus on causes and impacts of natural hazards, it has not equipped them with the skills and knowledge needed to help mitigate the impact of disasters on themselves and their communities.

School curricula are focusing exclusively on what is, rather than what could be, missing an opportunity to empower and invest in young people as creators of a new and better world.

Young people are calling on decision makers to:

  • transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner and renewable energy sources
  • listen to scientists’ advice on climate change
  • support disaster-affected communities by providing them with familiar and accessible evacuation centres
  • make sure essential services continue to operate in a disaster
  • ensure young people are provided with the knowledge and skills to:
    • plan and prepare for natural hazards,
    • care for themselves and others in a crisis › access emergency alerts and warnings
    • prevent or reduce the risk of a disaster

Only 13% of the young people surveyed indicated that they felt their views were listened to by leaders in government.

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