Senator MOORE (Queensland) (20:22): Forrest Primary School, which is very close to this building, is proud to be authorised as an International Baccalaureate World School delivering the Primary Years Program. This program encourages taking action to make the world a better place. As part of the program, students in their final year of primary school carry out:
… an extended, in-depth, collaborative project known as the PYP Exhibition.
This involves students working independently and collaboratively to conduct an extensive inquiry into real-life issues or problems. It's a chance for students to make up their own minds about what can be important and what they will be able to do to make a real difference to their world.
This year, Forrest Primary School, with the dedication and commitment of three of their class teachers, Carolyn Davis, Dan Heap and Sarah Bauer-McPhee, worked with the grade 6 graduating class of Forrest to look at the issues around the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This was an opportunity for the young people to bring in their knowledge, passion and suggestions for action for their students, staff and families about what the SDGs meant to them, to their community and to their world. I was lucky enough to visit the school a few months ago in the middle of their research program, and I was absolutely astounded by their energy, their commitment, their research skills and the efforts they made to learn more about the SDGs and also the way that they really got the message. They understood that the SDG agenda was definitely about their world and about ensuring that no-one was left behind. They also saw that, while there were 17 goals-and each one in that class could tell me each of the 17 goals-they had to work together. So last Monday Forrest Primary School came to their Parliament House to give evidence to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee inquiry into the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The whole of the main committee room was full of over 60 students from the school. They came to talk with their parliament about what they had been doing and to put into action the messages that they wanted to give, not just to their families and friends that were able to visit their presentation, but to all of us, to show that the parliament had a role to actually commit, as they have done, to the SDG agenda.
I want to talk about some of the contributions that we received as a committee. Senator McGrath is over there. He was able to listen to the school with Senator Gallacher and myself. The conversation started with Miles, who started his contribution by asking us how we would feel if we had to drink water that wasn't clean. His group had looked at the importance of water in our lives. They learnt about the impact of the fact that across the world more than 2,000 children die every day from unclean water and diseases associated with inadequate water supply. They talked about the 2.3 billion people who don't have sanitation such as toilets. They looked at goal 6, which looked at clean water and sanitation. They researched the process, and they took action. Remember, the idea of the baccalaureate program is to take action. Miles and his team decided that the Molonglo River, which runs through Canberra, was not as clean as it should be. So they went out together and did a clean-up in their river and took rubbish out of the water that is running through the city of Canberra. They understood there had to be an understanding of what clean water is all about and the importance of it.
Then other students from the school came forward. The presentation from Honey was looking at the issues around the goal 11, building sustainable cities and communities. She talked about how important all the goals were in this place. She also challenged all of us. It's important for young people to have the knowledge and power to change the world so that they can lead by example and inspire. They know that through their exhibition the school community can do more. Ava talked about her team and SDG3, which is about health. She talked about the importance of immunisation across the world. Their focus group looked at the problem of good health and wellbeing. Without that there would not be a future for anyone in the world.
Eloise talked about goal 15, which is life on the land. She encouraged her schoolmates and family to think about the issues of poaching in Africa and people who were poaching rhinos, elephants and tigers. She was telling people what that would mean for the future of wildlife and how we could protect animals. Senator Rice was talking about that earlier in Australia. They made that link. Phoebe's group looked at SDG1, poverty, focusing on poverty and homelessness. She was working with her team to look at having a donation box on the day of their exhibition to raise money for the homeless in Canberra and linking that into homelessness for young people in South Africa. Caterina and Ruby talked about SDG12, responsible consumption and production. They talked about the impact of plastics in the community and urged other students to try and limit the way they use plastic. Ruby talked about the action they took to make canvas bags, decorating those with messages, which then could be sold, reinforcing the need for looking at alternative ways to consume but also raising money for the project, which was looking at poverty.
Claudette's team took on a biggie. That was one we talked to Senator McGrath about: SDG16, peace, justice and strong institutions. Claudette was looking at the issues around corruption in government. They thought that there was not a lot they could personally do at the moment about this issue, but they could raise awareness and raise knowledge about the importance of having integrity in government. Edgar was all across the issues of SDG7, affordable and clean energy, looking at how people can save energy and how we can use appliances better and look at natural light and upgrading appliances. Ava Rose was looking at life below waters in SDG14-again, that overwhelming issue of plastics. She set up a store with her mates at Coles in Manuka, talking with communities about what this meant. She was saying that people wanted to talk to them about what they were doing. Dylan also looked at life below water and how beautiful the ocean can be.
Max looked at decent work and economic growth. He raised awareness for younger people with a game he invented so that it was unbalanced: if you had money and wealth, you always got ahead. If you were disadvantaged and poor, you kept losing the game, using a dice, and you just could not break that nexus of privilege. Eliot was talking about reduced inequalities. They had a stand at the exhibition which showed that, if you were rich and privileged, you were able to be listened to with respect, you had comfortable chairs and your opinions were valued. If you were not rich-if you were one of the disadvantaged, if you were poor, if you had been left behind-your opinions weren't taken into account and you weren't looked after.
They ended their exhibition day with a dance. All the students got involved and they had a dance which represented the issues they'd been discussing. They also suggested maybe we could use a dance program here in parliament when we are looking at important issues. That might actually lift the level of debate that we sometimes have in this place.
Adelaide is going to come back and talk to us later. She is going to put her own submission in about the issues around gender inequality, talking about how, often across our world, women are treated differently to men, and making sure that those inequalities are identified and that real action is taken.
These young people get the message of the SDGs. When 2030 Agenda ends, they will be 24 and they'll be making decisions about the future of our planet. We heard today about the activism of students. I think Forrest Primary School has put this activism into place. The inspiration that they provide and the challenge they provide to us make it clear that they expect their government to be deeply involved in these processes. They have told us that the SDGs are important, they're real and they can provide a plan for us into the future. I hope people get the chance to read their evidence in full in the Hansard of our inquiry. It's people like the young students at Forrest Primary School that can lead us into a better future where no-one is left behind.