Thursday, July 15, 2010

HotLine asks its next big questions

 HotLine - a television style panel show by kids for everyone

An audience of over eighty students aged from 12 to 17 years participated in a television style panel show on Wednesday 23 June 2010 at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre in Adelaide. 

The hotline project is linked to Australia21’s Next Big Question (NBQ) project, which seeks to create a new conversation on the big questions facing Australia, to respond to the unprecedented challenges facing Australia within the global world today.

Australian youth have been invited to participate in the NBQ project. Recently youth participation occurred in conjunction with the Federal Government’s Australian Youth Forum, and now with this creative initiative called HotLine.

The HotLine host was 17 year old Tom Merrett, Head Prefect at Unley High School who recently contributed to the Next Big Question Project for Australia21. He was also a winner of 2009 ECOtvc film competition and his film Global Warming It’s Serious screened on Network TEN.  Tom believes that Australia's youth have to deal with the effects of environmental change and social realities, and that young people need to be involved in today’s decisions for our future.

The HotLine show began with a live link to Canberra to Dr Lynne Reeder, Executive Director, Australia21 who gave an overview of Australia21 and the Next Big Question project. The panel then presented the results of the Australian Youth Forum participation, and other youth involvement. The Australian Youth Forum input to the NBQ can be accessed by clicking on the second report findings at

Other panel members included Dr Barbara Hardy AO, renowned scientist, geologist and co-instigator of the Nature Foundation of SA; Prof Monica Oliphant, scientist and solar expert; Maggie Hine, Group Manager of Sustainability at Onkaparinga Council; Joel Dignam, student from University of Adelaide who attended Australian Youth Climate Debate at Copenhagen; and a 16 year old student who is a recent ECOtvc winner.

Prior to the HotLine show, students were asked to submit up to three questions on the environment. Questions could be controversial, interesting and insightful, related to people and society, technology, hopes and concerns, cultural background and the way we live our lives. Students’ questions were to be answered by the panel. The questions are listed below.

With three cameras, a sound recordist, an auto-cue for the host, a live feed for the audience, and five screens surrounding, it all created a very professional production.

Students were also given an overview of how the production studio had been set up for the day to give them the opportunity to learn about the intricacies and complexities of television panel show production.  Some students also gained work experience through their involvement with the filmmaking.

It was agreed that the day had been a great success – with one participant noting “Hotline is a wonderful initiative and it's inspiring to see kids communicating with and informing kids on complex environmental issues.”

The outcome of this creative and participative event will be a ten minute television style panel show for You Tube, schools, websites and hopefully television.

It is planned to make HotLine a regular online show hosted by schools and students and to link with organizations such as Australia21 and the Australian Youth Forum.

Hotline Questions

Students 15 years

-  What can we, as youth, be doing to help in the battle against climate change?
-  What is being done in Australia to change the way we live our lives so that we can be more sustainable?
-  How can schools make a difference?
-  What is a good way to get funding for environmental projects at our school?
Students 12 years
-  Considering alternative sources of energy, I am particularly interested in focusing on Uranium as South Australia has such rich deposits in this mineral.  Therefore my questions are as follows:
:  Can Uranium be developed as an energy source without harming the environment?
:  Would Uranium provide a cheaper source of power than we currently have?
:  Would the use of Uranium pose a threat to the world at large?

Students 13 years
-  How can we sustain our growing population when we keep putting houses and other infrastructure on our most productive land?
-  How is the Port Stanvac desalination plant sustainable without damaging the marine environment?
-  Is there some way to supply water to farmers along the Murray River as well as to the Lower Lakes and the Coorong?

Students 17 years
-  What is the likelihood of another oil spill happening like the one in the Gulf of Mexico?
-  Do you think the environment will be able to recover from this spill?
-  What does this mean for our reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source?

Students 13 years
-  What do you believe would be the most appropriate energy option for Australia and why?
-  What is Australia doing to support the oil spill situation in America?
-  How do you think the Australian Government is handling the production of carbon emissions?

Students 12-14years
-  Why is all the “Environmentally Friendly” franchised so frantically, why don’t you spend the money on making the products more affordable as the main part of society are not as rich and fortunate, their money is needed for the necessary things.

-  Do you think that the Government both Federal and state are giving enough money to the right solutions for saving the environment such as solar power, wind power and just green energy in general? Could we not just spend the money trying to fix people’s life styles then clean up the previous damage?

-  There will have to be a balance between all fuel cars and all “environmentally safe” cars in order for the environment AND the economy to be better off. If there had to be a majority of one, which do you think would favour the economy and the environment?

-  Are the “environmental friendly” shopping bags actually any better for the environment? We hear about how the plastic bags are suffocating animals in the ocean and not biodegradable so they cause litter and result in landfill, but do the “new and improved” bags do anything?

-  At the rate that we are going in tropical rainforest deforestation, how much of our rainforests will we still have? How will this affect the natives and animal species only found in rainforests?

- How are we impacting the ecosystem in daily life, and will we still be able to live like this in 2050?

-  What eco-friendly alternatives are being looked into for our daily power needs, such as cars?

-  What mark is the mining industry leaving on the Australian ecosystem?

-  The current environment programmes run by schools and private companies are often, in my opinion and most people my age, boring. What research is conducted before these programmes are initiated, and does it actually involve people of the targeted age group? 

-  Do you think that we should be investing money into saving the environment or saving people? Many children are dying each day of malnourishment, and AIDS and we are spending money on making solar panels.  Is this right?  Should we be spending money on the environment before people?

-  Because of our modern lifestyles and the choices we are allowed to make, do you think advertising these environmental issues will really have any effect on the community?

-  Do you think that governments are taking enough action in informing the public about the right choices to make for the environment?

-  How are we going to inform people about the bigger picture, not just doing what they think is good for the environment?

-  Why would people change for environment technology when it costs more and it does not travel or work longer or better? Why is it that there is not a solution to satisfy the whole of society that is easy and cheap to use?

-  Why doesn’t the government put a lot of time and pressure to achieve great environmental technological feats? Shouldn’t the technology be more efficient but be convenient and better for the environment?

-  From my perspective it seems that the government is making all the decisions. This is surely wrong as should youths not get a say, taking into consideration that soon current day children will lead our nation in government?

-  How will the new mining tax affect the current economical state, and me and others personally?

-  In light of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico do you think that this will hasten the search for alternative energy sources?

-  What detrimental effect will take place on the environment when the salt from Adelaide’s new Desalination Plant is pumped back into the Saint Vincent Gulf?

-  When Australia took part in the recent climate change expo, it was said that to transport all the representatives of Australia to the said expo, that it used more fuel then a small country in a year. Is there actually a point to wasting all this power or are we actually making our predicament worse?

-  How are we as a nation meant to change our lifestyle by including these new forms of power and transport?

-  What is the point of all these new environmentally friendly cars when most of them still get their power by burning fossil fuels or nuclear power? For example, electric cars are powered by electricity and this electricity is made by burning coal. Are we actually getting anywhere?

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