Fighting for our planet must be first priority

I'm a 17 year old Aboriginal woman from the Darumbal nation living in the Rockhampton region. I was born in Townsville and I've lived here my whole life.

I've been involved in the School Strike movement since the first strike in November last year, and since then helped with and attended other strikes.

As an Indigenous woman, I have grown up with a deep connection and respect for the earth. My culture only makes me more passionate about this climate change and more determined to fight to reverse it.

At primary school I learnt about pollution and the many threats our ecosystem faces, but it wasn't until I was about 15 that I started to panic about my future and the future of our planet.

I began to educate myself on the science behind climate change, and I quickly became more aware of the scale of the threat.

The more I learned, the more scared, frustrated, angry, impatient and panicked I became.

Scientists say that we have less than 12 years until the damage to our climate becomes irreversible.

Even though I should be spending my teenage years enjoying being young, I find myself fighting for a future.

No one will listen to us unless we are sacrificing something, and the backlash we receive from missing out on schooling to strike is proof that conversation is now occurring more widely.

I have heard older people say that my generation is lazy and apathetic, but as soon as we stand up for the degradation of our planet or against injustice, we are suddenly labeled as hysterical and naive.

Honestly, trying to convince people to protect the planet is exhausting.

I find it hard to understand why acting on the climate crisis should not be everyone's highest priority, because it seems so obvious to me.

We are facing a very real and terrifying emergency with consequences that will impact the life of every person on the planet, and denying or ignoring it will only worsen the consequences now and in the future. I honestly don't see how anything else can be a priority right now.

I will continue to strike until our demands are met and change is made on a governmental level to reduce emissions and transition to renewable energy generation.

The climate strike movement is more than just a platform for young people to express their fear and anger and to demand change. For us, at this point, it's our only hope.

Ella Jean Evans is a Year 12 high school student