Green Cross Australia has recently launched the Extreme Weather Heroes campaign to inspire a new generation of young emergency services volunteers motivated by environmental values.
The campaign is designed to respond to the need for more emergency service volunteers in Australia, as the current force is aging and shrinking. The need for a strong emergency service force is even more crucial as Australia is experiencing an increase in floods, fires, storms and droughts. This experience is not anomaly but rather fits into a trend predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The frequency and intensity of weather events are expected to grow as the planet warms.
The Extreme Weather Heroes campaign seeks to educate young Australians about the science of extreme weather and the building evidence of a changing climate. By drawing a connection to emergency volunteering, GC Australia aims to inspire 20,000 Australians under 30 to become active emergency volunteers with one of Australia’s 18 agencies over the next three years.
Currently there are around five million members of Generation Y (those born between mid 1980s to early 1990s) in Australia with 97% of this population owning a computer and 94% owning a mobile phone. Given these statistics, it is not surprising that a typical day for a Generation Y member involves heavy use of modern communication tools. Therefore, this campaign aims to recruit and retain young emergency volunteers by working with youth-led internet social networking sites such as Facebook, You Tube, Flickr and Twitter.
To kick-start this campaign, GC Australia selected five outstanding active volunteers from the Australian State Emergency Service (SES), the Red Cross and the Australian Rural Fire Service to be Extreme Weather Heroes. These five Heroes document their experiences over live interactive blogs, thereby encouraging and inspiring their peers to respond at any one of their local emergency volunteering agencies.
The website and activities of the Heroes are all connected with a pathway towards volunteering that has been carefully developed to encourage skills development as well as provide 72 hour survival information and volunteering opportunities.
Not only will this project highlight the link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and extreme weather, it will hopefully inspire communities of young people to get active, skilled and prepared to do their part for the future security and sustainability of our environment.