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Grassroots activists are taking the lead on climate action

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Climate Five's Hayley Percy shares her views on the successes and challenges within the climate space.

Hayley Percy. Source: Supplied

Climate Five focuses on providing authoritative and well researched resources as well as meaningful steps people can action that have impact. It is a 100% volunteer run, non-partisan group and accepts no funding or donations.

Co-founder of online advocacy group, Climate Five, and proud Wiradjuri woman, Hayley Percy is one of the First Nations young people on the leading edge of tackling climate change across the nation.

What prompted you to start Climate Five?

We were prompted to begin working on this project after the horrific Black Summer Bushfire climate disaster of 2019/20. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, we wanted to funnel people’s efforts into tangible actions that have a positive impact on the climate. An example of this was our campaign to help people switch their superannuation to funds that do not invest in fossil fuel industries.

What do you see as being the key challenges in this space?

One issue with the climate movement in this country is that it’s been dominated by predominantly white-run organisations that aren’t connected to grassroots communities. Organisations and organisers who work in this space must work to continually empower people to take individual and collective action to care for Country.

It has also become apparent that whilst information sharing and educating via platforms such as Climate Five are valuable and important, it’s key to ensure there are calls to actions that are clear and achievable for our followers and the broader community. By providing easy to follow steps we can all engage with we try to encourage small changes with bigger picture outcomes.

"For climate justice to be successful in this country it is imperative that it is led and governed by First Nations people." - Hayley Percy

What have been some key learnings from your first year?

While raising awareness and knowledge about First Nations justice is critical, posting and sharing is not enough. People need to take meaningful and direct action to support restitution. Paying the Rent is one way to do that, and it has been the central principle of Climate Five since we began.

I’ve also seen a rise in information sharing accounts on Instagram. It’s fantastic when these are run and led by Blak people sharing Blak knowledge. I would encourage people to ensure they’re following these accounts, but to also take actions to demonstrate their allegiance.

What does First Nations’ leadership on climate change look like to you? First Nations’ justice is climate justice. This is the founding principal of Climate Five. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been custodians of the land, waterways, and skies of this country since time immemorial. And yet, the disproportionate impacts of colonialism means First Nations people will be impacted first and hardest by climate change.

For climate justice to be successful in this country it is imperative that it is led and governed by First Nations people. First Nations’ leadership looks like groups such as Seed Mob. Seed Mob are Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network and are leaders in the climate action space, sustained by allies funding and supporting their work. You’ve had some great successes in your first year - what’s next for Climate Five? We’ve had a track record of action and success. Since forming in January 2020 we have successfully supported over $1 million of divestment from superannuation funds that invest in fossil fuels, supported the UniSuper Divestment campaign, which led to UniSuper completely divesting from coal, created First Nations-centred Blak Lives Matter resources that gained over 75,000 engagements, and helped raise $50,000 to purchase a food bank delivery truck for RISE Refugee.

In 2021, we launched the revamped campaign to explain and encourage people to Pay the Rent to First Nations controlled organisations, which coincided with Invasion Day 2021. We are also campaigning to ensure this is the first step supporters take when wanting to take action on climate change.🔥

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