Young people in Katherine feel 'voiceless' and 'powerless' when it comes to one of the most pressing global issues of the day, UNICEF Young Ambassador Franklin Hooper says.
"They are worried and concerned that when they grow up they won't have the opportunity to enjoy the environment," he said.
"They understand what is going on, they are worried about their future, and they want action and change."
Mr Hooper, one of ten Young Ambassadors for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) spent last week back in his home town of Katherine speaking to primary school students about their concerns for right now and the future.
It is the first time young voices from the Northern Territory have been included in UNICEF's annual research report on the attitudes and opinions of children and young people in Australia, since it was relaunched last year.
Last year's report A Climate For Change, found children aged 14 - 17 felt the issue of climate change was one of the greatest threats to their safety and wellbeing.
With no further action or change from government one year on from the report, and the catastrophic impacts of climate change blazing front and centre over the school holiday it is no surprise young people's concerns have not shifted.
Mr Hooper said he spoke to almost 100 students aged from 10 - 12 at Katherine South Primary School and Casuarina Street Primary School, before heading to Darwin High School, Ludmilla Primary School and Driver Primary school.
Collectively, the young ambassadors have clocked in thousands of conversations with young people across Australia on a range of topics for this year's report.
It is an opportunity for young people to influence decision-making at the top when the ambassadors take their final report to politicians later this year.
"We heard a lot of concern about climate change and bullying on social media," Mr Hooper said.
"At Katherine South, kids were also concerned about break-ins, they said they previously felt unsafe in their homes, but that was shifting as their parents started to put in more security.
"At Casuarina Street, the students had recently started looking at how to manage intense emotions, with that fresh in their mind they were interested in talking about wellbeing. They were really open about feeling anxious and angry about different things going on in their lives."
Last year's research found young people were "sharply observing the actions of decision-makers, leaders and adults around them", and this year was no different.
But Mr Hooper said there was a power imbalance reinforcing students to stay quiet on the topics that matter to them, despite showing a strong understanding of their concerns.
"They said they were told they don't know enough, they see Greta Thunberg, a young person speaking out, ripped apart in the media and bullied by adults, and that only strengthens that idea that they should be quiet," he said.
"That is the opposite of what we want, we want them to actively be involved in the conversation.
"The students in Katherine had a really good ability to delve deep into why they were worried.
"They are going out to read books on climate change, they are engaging in documentaries and doing their own research.
"Some people say youth are lazy, but the fact we have these 10 - 12-year-olds equipping themselves with information proves the opposite and I can only hope politicians will see how eager young people are to be in the discussion."
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