Morwell isn’t just a dirty coal town, there’s a lot more to us than that. I have lived all sixteen years of my life in Morwell. I love the community I am from and it’s a place I want to continue living in. I love its diversity and that I can speak to anyone I see in the street. We’re close to the mountains and beaches and we have easy access to the city, I get the best of both country and city life.
I also live just up the road from Hazelwood, Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal fired power station and mine. When it caught on fire two years ago, my friends and I were evacuated and didn’t go to school for over a week. My friends and I were struck down by coughing fits and feeling ill. My town was built on coal, but the mine fire showed us that coal is damaging our health.
As the power station and mine closes, it’s going to be hard. The job losses will have a dramatic impact not just on the workers at Hazelwood, but on the rest of the Latrobe Valley too. But this moment also provides our region with a unique opportunity for us to build a more vibrant, sustainable community that young people want to stay and live in. To do that we need money from the state and federal governments, but we also need the solutions to be developed and lead by all members of our community.
Over the past few months with other high school students from across the Latrobe Valley, we’ve been talking about our vision for the Valley. A vision that goes beyond brown coal, and includes diverse forms of energy production and more sustainable jobs.
As young people we are concerned about global warming, and its impacts on the places we love. We know that taking serious action on climate change means switching from coal to renewables as soon as possible, but we must make sure our community doesn’t get left behind in this transition.
We are ready to stand together and build awesome new jobs for the Latrobe Valley that are clean, safe and will last us well into the future. We know we can’t build another planet but we believe we can build other, less polluting industries in the Latrobe Valley. We can build community solar gardens, manufacture hot water systems and train young people in renewable energy technologies.
We are ready to stand together and build awesome new jobs for the Latrobe Valley that are clean, safe and will last us well into the future. We have creativity and ideas and we are already taking action in our schools. We’re building vegetable gardens, creating environment groups and our schools are reducing our waste. We’re talking to our peers and finding out what their visions for the Valley are too. We want to be involved in planning the future of our community; after all, we’re the ones who are going to be living in it.
I know it’s going to be tough in Morwell now they have announced the closure of Hazelwood. As a young person I want to see our community come together, for us to look to the future and beyond the coal under our feet. Young people are this community’s greatest asset - we must be involved in planning its future, because we are the future.