How to be a Responsible Activist and Make your Protest Count

Students across the world have identified the need for global action to respond to the climate crisis as a priority and at the recent state-wide conference VicSRC Congress 2019, Victorian students called for climate crisis education and action from schools to ensure Victorian schools are leading the way in response.

We’ve put together some tips to help you stay safe and be as effective as possible in your activism!

 

1. Let your parents/carers, teachers and the school know that you are striking.

Schools have a duty of care to ensure you are safe and obviously your parents want to know where you are if you’re not at school. By letting them know you’re striking, you can also talk to them about WHY you are striking and how they can support you and make change themselves.

  • School Strike 4 Climate Change have a great letter template for your school that you can adapt to suit.
  • Encourage your parents/carers to join you! Here is some info put together by School Strike 4 Climate Change they can use to get their workplace on board.

 

2. Use the strike as an opportunity to educate.

Offer to report back to your school about the strike and what your learned. Talk to your teachers about the importance of protest, and the cause behind it, can be included in your classes. Compare Australia’s response to the strike to other countries – for example, the student strikes in Hong Kong. Understand what you’re striking for and why it’s so important that action be taken now!

Talk to your friends about the issue. Even if they don’t want to strike, there are other great ways to be involved. Check out School Strike for Climate Change and Australian Youth Climate Coalition for more ideas.

 

3. Go with or plan to meet people there.

Crowds of people can be pretty overwhelming so if you can, have a plan to attend with friends or make a plan to meet friends at a very specific place and a specific time. When there are thousands of people trying to use their mobiles in one place at one time, phones tend to be not so reliable.

Look out for each other and plan to meet up at the end of the strike (if you get separated) at a specific time and place to check in, debrief and ensure everyone is safe and well.

If you do attend alone or find yourself alone or unwell at any point; stay calm, alert and aware of your surroundings. If you feel overwhelmed or panicked, take deep breaths and look for emergency or support services. They will usually be near the edges of the crowd and wear identifiable bright clothes.

 

4. Be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a protester

The right to protest is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 19) however it is important to understand that there are a number of responsibilities under the law and as a good citizen that you should be aware of.

As you will be striking in a public place there are laws associated with public protests including:

  • Obstruction
  • Trespass
  • Unlawful Assembly
  • Anti-mask laws
  • Offensive behaviour
  • Offences against emergency workers
  • Violent disorder
  • Property damage
  • Defamation

For further information on these laws in Victoria, please check out the Law Hand Book.

It’s best to comply with any reasonable request from the police or protective service officers but if you are unsure, you can politely ask for a reason behind the request.  

We hope these tips are helpful for making your strike experience as meaningful and impactful as possible but please remember that this is just a guide and should not be considered legal advice.

How-to-be-a-Responsible-Activist-1.pdf (30 downloads)

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