In today’s world, where climate change poses significant challenges, the Young Voices Awards (YVA) provides a platform for young individuals to use their voices and make a positive impact. Organised by the Australian Catholic Magazine and Australian Catholic University, this initiative encourages students to explore the theme of ‘Climate for Change’ and leverage various media formats to address pressing environmental concerns. Through their participation, these young voices contribute to a larger movement towards a sustainable future.
Year 11 student Tori, shed light on the issue of increasing soil salinity in Australia, emphasising the need to change land use patterns to combat this serious land degradation problem. Tori’s work exemplifies the deep connection between Christianity, environmental stewardship, and the call to care for both the Earth and our fellow humans.
The YVA provides a unique platform for students like Tori to channel their passions and raise awareness about critical environmental issues. Participants are given the freedom to choose the format that best allows them to convey their perspectives effectively. By offering options such as essays, videos, podcasts, or artwork, the competition enables students to utilise their strengths and creativity to engage and inspire others. This inclusive approach to media empowers young individuals to become advocates for positive change.
Central to the Christian faith is the belief that the Earth is a divine creation, a gift from God that warrants our love and care. Christians are called upon to be responsible stewards of the environment, recognizing the importance of preserving its beauty and vitality for future generations. This stewardship extends to addressing the challenges posed by climate change, which can have a profound impact on vulnerable communities. As Tori aptly stated, “Looking after the environment and preventing climate change is important to a Christian person because all Christians believe that the earth is God’s creation, and that they are called to love and care for it as God would want. They may also be aware of the impact climate change has on susceptible communities, encouraging them to care for their neighbours as well.”
When examining the religious response to climate change, the teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si serve as a guiding light for Christians worldwide. In this groundbreaking document, Pope Francis highlights the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and economic issues. He emphasises the urgent need for ecological conversion, urging believers to recognize the moral imperative of caring for our common home. The encyclical stresses the importance of addressing environmental degradation and social injustice hand in hand, as they are closely intertwined. It is through this holistic lens that Tori and other students explore climate change and its multifaceted consequences.