Raelene Gooch

Hometown: Junortoun
Occupation: Environmental and Sustainability Primary School Teacher
Area of Interest: Engaging and empowering young people

How is climate change impacting your community?
Like many other schools in the region, our school community was affected by the extreme temperatures at the end of 2019. The uncharacteristically extreme heat and wind in the last few weeks of term 4 highlighted our lack of infrastructure. There was not enough green spaces or shade and far too much bitumen for the children to play safely.  This led to students having to remain inside the classroom all day as there were not enough spaces for our children to safely be outside. The severe fire danger days saw our school close due to its; location, the limited access to the entry and exit point and the number of students in our care.

What are you passionate about changing?
We are all bombarded with disturbing images which are designed to shock us into action. However when young students are confronted with horrific images such as sea life wrapped in plastic, birds covered in oil, koalas burnt from bushfires – the effects are ten fold. Not only do they feel incredible empathy towards the animals but they can’t fully comprehend the nature of the images. They often question why ‘the adults’ are not helping which can make them feel of angry, fearful, and frustrated.

I encourage my students to make everyday changes that will make a big difference in their local environment and influence those around them which can lead to change on a much bigger scale. Students are involved in the conception, planning, advertising and completion of projects at the school, such as, planting trees, growing their own produce and worm farming. This gives them a sense of power and influence in mitigating change and adapting to the changing climate.