Indigenous people among most vulnerable

I was proud to take part in the recent School Strike for Climate in Gunnedah, north west NSW. I am a 16-year-old proud Kamilaroi woman with an intrinsic connection to my country.

I am really concerned about the impacts that climate change is having on that country.

I am worried about its rivers, plains and ranges, its day skies and its night skies and its ecosystems that sustain life and that carry the tangible evidence of my people and our ancestors.

I walked out of my school, Gunnedah High, on March 15 because I can see the reality of climate change unfolding almost daily.

Locally, the Mooki River, Cox Creek and the Namoi River are dry as bones, crippling our communities and turning up millions of dead fish.

Last weekend I helped my local Aboriginal Land Council to collect bottled water for our cousins in Walgett where families are spending up to $27 a carton for drinking water because of this punishing drought.

The frequency of dry times we are now seeing are increasing and my people are suffering as a result.

They are living in inhumane conditions, with no accessible drinking water.

My Kamilaroi culture is intrinsically linked to our mother earth and all things within it.

Our spiritual well-being relies on the good health of the lands and waters within our traditional lands, and this health is deteriorating rapidly.

The Living Planet Index calculates that the population of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have halved in less than 50 years, and human activity has driven their demise.

I feel the pain of this loss.

And I feel the human rights impacts of climate change.

Indigenous peoples of the world make up 5% of the total population and are amongst the most vulnerable and the most likely to be impacted by a rapidly changing climate. Yet our views have not been sought.

My elders and my community who have a deep engagement with the lands and waters. We feel a profound obligation to be part of the solutions to the issues surrounding climate change, and we want to be involved.

That is why I stood up and spoke up at the School Strike on Climate.

This was a clear way for me to take a small step towards ensuring Kamilaroi people and other Indigenous people across the world are taking part in the solutions.

Marlie Thomas, Year 11, Gunnedah High school striker.