*Featured Image: Tamworth Cr and Careers Advisor Charles Impey with UTS’s Travis Radford, Rhiannon Soliman-Marron, Kirsten Jelinek and Year 10 students of Calrossy Anglican School.
As the climate change debate ramps up in parliament, rural and regional Australians are still weathering the storm of a devastating summer.
Tamworth had been in drought for two years before parts of the region were razed by bushfires at the end of 2019.
For students like Calrossy Anglican School’s Bonnie Size (Year 10), climate change is something they can’t ignore.
‘This drought has really impacted us in the past two years,” she said. “And all these fires threatening us and Australia as a whole, have really put into focus that [climate change] is real… and is becoming worse.”
“I think my parents fears [would be] the same as mine,” Laura Newberry adds. “I think it’s the same for everyone. We know it’s bad, we just don’t know what to do about it.”
Tamworth councillor and Calrossy Careers Advisor Charles Impey agrees.
“We feel the effects of drought as a result of climate change a whole lot more than they do in the cities,” he explained.
“In rural and regional areas where we have a finite water resource, we can’t just build a desalination plant on the coast somewhere.”
*Chaffey Dam near Nundle, is managed by WaterNSW (Photo: Rhiannon Soliman-Marron)
Although Tamworth has received drought-breaking rainfall in the past few weeks, the problems caused by increasingly hotter and drier summers are far from over.
In December, the Bureau of Meteorology registered Australia’s hottest day on record, with the average maximum temperature across the country reaching 40.9 degrees Celsius.
Mr Impey says the school has been working to reduce its carbon footprint.
“We’ve installed bubblers all over the place… so that students aren’t bringing in numbers of non-renewable plastic bottles.
“We’ve also just recently banned things like ice blocks, because of the number of wrappers that were being generated.”.
Tamworth Regional Council has not declared a climate emergency, while the neighbouring councils in Armidale and Glen Innes have.
But Mr Impey says actions speak louder than words.
“I think our council is doing as much as is humanly possibly… with the limited resources and fiscal resources we have.
“It’s one thing to declare an emergency, but it’s another thing to put actions in place to do something about the footprint that [we] leave.”
Which is exactly what Calrossy is doing, both in practice and in theory.
A shift toward more sustainable practices however, could make Mr Impey’s job as a careers advisor a little easier.
“Various occupations and job titles and roles will exist in the future that don’t now. [Like] engineering roles, product management roles and recycling-related industry sector roles,” he says.
“It will unearth new career progression for young people, and that’s what I’m excited about.”
While more job opportunities may be on the horizon, the ongoing threats posed by climate change are felt by all generations.
— Rhiannon Soliman-Marron @rhisoliman
*This story has also appeared in the Northern Daily Leader