About 250 people attended the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference at Flinders University in Adelaide over July 4-8. A highlight of the conference was the attendance of the Indigenous Solidarity Rides bus full of passengers on their way from Newcastle to the convergence at Alice Springs.
They presented workshops on the NT intervention, its effects on Aboriginal communities and the struggle to repeal the racist laws.
Another strong feature of the conference was the many workshops given by members of Aboriginal communities in South Australia about the disastrous effects the mining and uranium industries were having on their land and water.
A large number of workshops focused on lifestyle solutions to environmental problems, like community gardening and permaculture.
Disappointingly, there was little discussion of any national political campaigns, such as how to bring the campaign for climate action onto campus and link up with the broader climate movement in Australia.
This reflects the ebb of the climate movement in Australia this year under attack from a government that has shelved all pretense at climate action and from a growth in climate scepticism.
An exception was the workshop presented jointly by the University of Wollongong and University of Technology Sydney environment collectives, about the campaign for 100% renewable energy they have been running on their campuses.
Both collectives have challenged their universities to switch to 100% renewable energy and are gathering public support from students for this to happen. A similar workshop by the Australian Student Environment Network encouraged more uni enviro collectives to take up the campaign.
The SoS tradition of a day of action continued with a “nuclear scumbags” tour of the Adelaide CBD.
“Students want change”, said anti-nuclear campaigner David Noonan. “They want that end to uranium mining,” .
“They want an end to the nuclear risks and the unresolved waste management that comes from our uranium exports. The truth needs to be told. People need to know that Australia has driven down environmental protection standards to suit the uranium mining industry.”
About 120 people went on a roving protest that targeted BHP Billiton, Heathgate Resources, Parliament House, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and finished at Government House, renamed Genocide Corner by Uncle Kevin Buzzacott for the devastation caused by the Olympic Dam uranium mine to the Arabunna people.
At the BHP Billiton building, one protester, a former BHP employee, poured green slime outside the building to represent the destruction being caused in leaking uranium mines.
Madeline Hudson, from the Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (ACE) said Australians need to rally together for this issue because protests have made the difference before and can make the difference again.