Climate justice and shifting power: a Q&A with Maddie Sarre of AYCC

We joined Maddie from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) for a chat about their upcoming youth conference.  

Here at Clean State, we love collaborative work for climate justice, so we are really pleased to be hosting a panel discussion at the upcoming Power Shift event in a couple weeks (Sept 23-25th). Excitingly, our very own Youth Program Coordinator Jordan Rowand will be facilitating a panel at Power Shift this year!

The panel will be discussing all things green jobs, education, and ensuring no one is left behind in the transition to a green economy. It will feature Jaclyn McCosker (Australian Conservation Foundation), and Peter Ong (Electrical Trades Union), and will be running both online and in person at the Brisbane/Meanjin conference.​

We also have a 20% discount code available for people under 30 to attend the event online or in person – email us to grab yours!

Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I grew up on Peramangk country in the Adelaide Hills, and as a high school student I became really concerned about the impacts of climate change on my community with increased risk of bushfires, drought and heatwaves. I now live on Kaurna yarta in Adelaide and am working as AYCC’s Organising Director. In my spare time I like reading & going to the beach! 

What makes you passionate about climate solutions? 

I find the climate crisis really scary and have felt anxious since first learning about the ways it is already impacting so many people. Climate change threatens the health and safety of our communities, and those impacted the most are not the ones who are causing the problem. We have the solutions at our fingertips, if we’re willing to push back against the fossil fuel industry and the systems that prioritise profit over our collective future. 

What does a green economy look and feel like to you? 

A green economy protects country rather than exploiting it, generates renewable energy from the wind and sun and leaves no one behind. A green economy is led by community. 

We agree!

Could you tell us how you got involved in the climate movement?

I got involved as a volunteer with AYCC when I was 14 and spent many years volunteering on climate campaigns. I saw this job was available and chose to apply because I wanted to support other young people to get involved with the movement. I love that I get to work towards building a better, fairer future! I am part of a movement that gives me hope. I also love that I get to work with young people – because young people refuse to accept the status quo. We use our energy to fight back, demand better and be the change we want to see in the world. 

What is the AYCC? 

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) is Australia’s largest youth-run climate organisation. For more than fifteen years, we’ve been building the collective power of young people across the continent and demanding transformative action on climate that puts communities first. We’re made up of hundreds of volunteers and a team of about 15 staff.  

We believe it is only through a huge, diverse and committed social movement, led by those with the most at stake, that we will see just and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis realised.   

We are focused on campaigning for climate justice. This means acknowledging that the climate crisis is unjust because those that have done the least to cause the problem feel the effects first and worst. Solving the climate crisis is about more than just cutting emissions; it’s an opportunity to rethink the way this world operates and build a fairer future for everybody. 

Our campaigns are focused on keeping gas in the ground, acting in solidarity with frontline communities, and campaigning for climate solutions in two key areas: Western Sydney and Regional Queensland.  

What is Power Shift? 
Power Shift is AYCC’s 3-day high-energy youth climate summit, bringing together hundreds of young people to build relationships and learn vital skills to take action for climate justice.  

History tells us that the only way that we can shift things is if we band together in large numbers, tell stories and share our vision for a better future. When hundreds of people get in a room together (physical or virtual), magic happens; relationships form, we inspire each other and we make plans for how we are going to fight for justice. That’s what Power Shift is about.  

All young people are welcome at Power Shift! You can grab tickets here:  

Clean State also has a 20% discount available!

Last question – what would you like to see happen during this federal term? 

I would like to see an end to new fossil fuel projects, backed by all parties, justice for First Nations peoples and much more funding put towards the climate solutions our communities are demanding. 

Clean State would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Maddie for taking the time to chat with us!   

If the work of the AYCC is of interest to you, you can join Jordan – Clean State’s Youth Program Officer – at Power Shift in a couple weeks when they facilitate a panel on all things green jobs, climate, and the transition away from fossil fuels!   

If you’re involved in a climate project you’d like to tell us about, don’t hesitate to give us a buzz! We love to hear from the go-getters in our community.  


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