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Meet Seed: the Indigenous youth movement fighting for climate justice

Get to know Australia's first youth-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander climate justice network

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse

Melbourne lies on the traditional land of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people, who referred to the area as ‘Naarm’. When the region was invaded and established as a European settlement in 1835, the world was knee deep in the smog of the Industrial Revolution – meaning the city has never known a time outside of anthropological climate change. In Melbourne (and in Australia)  climate change is intertwined with colonialism – if you want to address one, you need to address the other. 

Seed “is [Australia’s] first, youth based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander climate justice network,” says Seed Victorian state coordinator and Gunditjmara and Tjapwurrung man Christopher Jakobi. Part of the 120,000-strong Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Seed’s role “is supporting and creating opportunities for blackfellas to organise and protect our lands and waters. Climate change is impacting our communities first and worst. Our culture, our knowledge and our spirit is ingrained in this land. And so the impact that it's having on this land, it has on us, the people too.”

"The impact that it's having on this land, it has on us, the people too.”

Rising sea levels in will forcibly displace Torres Strait Islanders while communities in the Northern Territory’s Central Desert will experience more days of extreme heat. The warming, drying climate across the continent will also reduce biodiversity and potentially lead to the loss of native food sources – similar to what happened during colonisation when the land was overrun by grazing livestock.

“I think that the impacts are not just ingrained in the material sense,” says Jakobi, “but also within our hearts, minds and spirits too. We're going to see a loss of connection.”

Hundreds of Indigenous nations thrived across Australia for at least 60,000 years prior to European arrival, with their own systems of sustainable agriculture and landcare in place. Solutions to help address climate change, therefore, already exist within Indigenous communities. “We should be giving leadership back to First Nations people,” says Jakobi, “and then we also should be given land back as well, for us to manage and maintain as we have for time immemorial. We can collaborate with Western knowledge systems to create ways to, if not mitigate, then adapt to what the future will be.”

“We should be giving leadership back to First Nations people...we also should be given land back as well, for us to manage and maintain as we have for time immemorial.”

Seed is currently campaigning to stop fracking in the Northern Territory, a process that risks polluting groundwater, desecrates sacred sites and doesn’t allow First Nations people self-determination over their traditional lands. Here in Melbourne, you can help Seed by joining them in solidarity at their peaceful weekly protests outside energy provider Origin. (Time Out contacted Origin for comment.) “We just have conversations with staff members,” says Jakobi. “Particularly, what we're seeing in Origin is that they have a lot of misinformation that filters down, and then staff are actually unaware of what Origin are doing and what impact that's having.”

Update 03/06/2020: Due to the current restrictions, Seed's regular peaceful demonstrations are not running. However, a virtual Don't Frack the NT protest is happening Friday, June 5 in partnership with sister organisation AYCC. Find out more about the protest here. You can discover more about Seed on their website or the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network Facebook page.

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