16 year old environmental activist Amber Brock-Fabel wins Young Achiever of the Year Award
16 year old Adelaide girl and climate change activist, Amber Brock-Fabel has been awarded the Young Achiever of the Year for the South Australian Environment Awards 2021. The new award honours the memory of young environment campaigner Leif Justham who tragically died in April while riding his bike around Australia to help raise awareness of environmental issues.
The inaugural Leif Justham Young Achiever Award was jointly awarded to Amber and First Nations environment and sustainability advocate Tiahni Adamson.
Amber Brock-Fabel has shared her story with us in her own words.
The deep responsibility to save the future of our planet
I am a sixteen-year-old activist from Adelaide currently studying Year 11 at University Senior College. After the 20th of September 2019 International School Strike 4 Climate protest with 20,000 people attending in Adelaide, I felt overwhelmingly empowered by young people and joined the Adelaide School Strike 4 Climate team. I feel a deep responsibility as a young person to stand up for action against the Climate Crisis and ultimately to save the future of our Planet.
I was heavily involved in planning for a Strike in Adelaide for May 2020 which we unfortunately had to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions. This was very disappointing at the time, as we had put in a lot of energy into planning the event and we had already met with and had the support the Adelaide City Council and SA Police. However, we were in full support of the health measures put in place and did not want to risk members of the public, as it is our priority to keep everyone safe during our Strikes.
We were able to plan a National Strike on the 25th of September 2020 where I was a lead organiser and Police Liaison Officer for the event. Due to the ongoing covid restrictions we needed to target an issue and create a maximum impact with minimum participant strikers. We focussed our action against the Federal Government’s support of the Gas Industry. Australia’s emissions from gas are continually rising which creates excess methane in the atmosphere and is a key contributor to Climate Change. I liaised directly with SA Health to ensure that our event was Covid-Safe which included creating QR codes to help with contract tracing as well as organising Covid Marshals to maintain social distancing and the distribution of hand sanitizer. Overall, the event was a great success.
As part of SS4C we wanted work towards engaging in the community beyond Strikes and become more proactive in our commitment to Environmental Issues. As such, I initiated a Beach Clean-up Day on October 31st, 2020. We worked with the Semaphore Largs Dunes Group and were extremely grateful for their support as with the turnout for the event. It is important that actions like Beach Clean-Ups occur so the community can work together to make a direct impact on the environment and I am planning to organise more events like these.
Additionally, I, along with two other climate activists met with the South Australian Minister for the Environment and Water David Spiers to discuss our proposal to implement the BinShift waste management program into all State Schools. This system not only uses an environmentally sustainable method but also educates every child in that school. The meeting was productive, and we are looking forward to discussing the program further with the Minster. After the launching of this initiative, I definitely felt that I had developed as an Environment Activist, as I was a representative for all young people who are fighting for climate justice around the world. I was using my voice and beliefs to help make a positive change.
I and 2 other representatives from SS4C conducted our 1st full-day workshop with high school students in December 2020. We presented to 250 Year 9 students at Cardjin College about appropriate waste management and becoming conscious individuals of their own carbon footprint.
One of the activities we engaged in was using different foods and asking the students to rank them from least carbon footprint to the most. We also asked them to write their own slogan statement or chant. This was a very positive interaction with the students and meant that they engagement was deeper and awareness about issues associated with the environment more meaningful.
This opportunity to educate the wider public, was both rewarding and challenging and provided an opportunity for personal growth. By presenting to the students, I am making lasting change, and can have a direct impact on the future generations by educating them about the Climate Crisis as well as helping them develop sustainable practices. I am looking to continue presenting to students in schools across South Australia.
In March 2021, we planned and conducted our first Global Strike in Adelaide whilst COVID restrictions were still in place. Because of the safe health requirements there was a lot of work involved in having an effective Covid-management Plan approved by SA Health. Again, we liaised closely with SA Police and the Adelaide Council to create a safe march. We were fortunate to have many adult volunteers, my Grandparents included, to meet the Covid Marshal requirements of our approved Plan.
I was the Primary Speaker after Welcome to Country and spoke about my passion for Climate Justice, the importance of leadership heeding Science advice, and the importance of our collective voices being heard. Presenting in front of so many people was certainly daunting, and I felt challenged to write in a language that was both inspiring to a crowd and also truthful to my own beliefs. I benefited greatly to have this opportunity to plan a larger strike as well as speaking and it has empowered me as a young person to continue to speak up about the misinformation surrounding the Climate Crisis and the immediate need for change. I was rewarded for my efforts with up to 1500 people attending the Strike and following Event.
Establishment of Environmental Forum for Young People
As part of my activism and engagement, I have been working with the Commissioner for Young People and Children, Helen Conolly, and SA Engagement Officer, Nicola Moore, since December 2020. I have been privileged to work with this Organisation to discuss issues affecting young people, including the environment and more recently mental health. I was part of a committee that met to workshop ideas and guidelines to help inform the State Government on their new Suicide Prevention Plan. I believe strongly that the current issues with the Environment weighs heavily on my generation in particular and has a detrimental impact on our collective Mental Health. I have also met in a small group with Nicola to brainstorm and discuss the possibility of forming an Environmental Forum for Young People. This is an existing partnership for me, and I am excited about planning the initial framework of this moving forward.
Letter box drop
As part of my aim to connect with my community, a friend and I reached out to our Local Council Members after they had completed a letter box drop regarding green waste information. This resulted in us meeting with the Mayor, Anne Monceaux, to discuss Climate related issues in my local area. She has been very keen to learn about my activism and last week we completed filming of an interview with her. I have established a relationship that I aim to continue to foster into the future and I look to forward to working with Anne to build a Youth Forum in my area.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Women’s’ Working Centre and Youth Affairs Council’s conference about Youth Representation in Decision Making for Australia. This was an extremely rewarding and inspiring experience which involved brainstorm ideas to improve representation for young people in Australia. I learnt a lot, made some excellent connections as a result of being involved and look forward to furthering discussions on this topic.
As part of my leadership role in SS4C I have with other members been interviewed on ABC Radio National with Peter Goers and participated in a filmed interview with Channel 44 Adelaide. I was contacted directly by the Sydney Boom Squish Theatre Company who were doing research for an ongoing production about the relationship between Young People and the Climate Crisis. I am very grateful to have had these media opportunities both as a learning experience as well as a chance to share my voice with the wider public.
As a youth advocate, I have been filmed by the Youth Affairs Council about the importance of having youth representation in Government for decision-making.
Working towards meaningful change for the better
I have been able to be a voice for Young People in South Australia and engaged in conversations and initiatives about the Climate Crisis, Sustainable Environmental Practices, Education, engaging Young People at governmental levels and the issues concerning mental health. I am committed to work at a Local and State level with my community to expand upon existing initiatives and implement new programs that help to move towards a sustainable future and revers the impact of the current environmental challenges.
In June 2021, I was fortunate to be awarded the Young Achiever of the Year for the South Australian Environment Awards 2021. I am very privileged to be awarded this in the name of Leif Justham who unfortunately died in a collision with a truck while bike riding across the Nullarbor to raise awareness about the Climate Crisis.
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