Koalas and young people solving the world’s wicked problems together – taking Climate Action

Kreative Koalas Design a Bright Future Challenge brings together young people from urban and rural Australia to solve the challenge of achieving a sustainable poverty free world by 2030 using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  as their inspiration


On a global scale achieving success will require

  • Bringing the right people together, in the right place, at the right time
  • Understanding there will be trade-offs and governments, businesses, the non-profit sector, and communities will need the courage to make difficult decisions based on thoughtful and genuine commitment to the SDGs.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and feedback loops

The Kreative Koalas project based learning model supports students and teachers to investigate the SDGs trade-offs and the difficult choices that will need to be made that may mean there will be winners and losers, at least in the short term.

Climate change (Goal 13) is a classic example. Those affected in the short term, such as fossil fuel companies and their workers, will perceive themselves as “losers” if they are forced to change, even though society as a whole will be a “winner” in the long-term by avoiding the tremendous risks and impacts of runaway climate change.

In 2019 three schools chose SDG 13: Climate Change to focus their Kreative Koalas’ artwork on. Let’s have a look at their creative artworks.

While looking at how climate change affects local koala populations, students in Years 3 to 6 at Raymond Terrace Public School collaborated with their Aboriginal Girl’s Group to produce a stunning koala called Mitjigan Guula, meaning girl koala in Worimi language.

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The Raymond Terrace koala uses aboriginal story-telling and painting to send a contemporary message of what is happening on Worimi lands and how inaction on climate change leads to devastating bush fires.

“Just like our young RTPS Aboriginal Girl’s Group, this koala is a young female in an uncertain world. The Worimi girls are traditional custodians and they feel connected to their lands. Mother Earth has always provided for First Nation people a feeling of connection, a sense of belonging to the Earth, to all living things – the animals, the trees, the stars, one another. In culture there is balance. The female, mother, protective, nurturing in her essence, the vessel through which life is carried would be the symbolic metaphor to speak to the dangers of inaction on climate change.”

With a clever play on words Year 5 students at James Erskine Public School named their koala Climb It as they studied climate action. Climb It has been split down the middle to contrast, on one side, a world of inaction and complacency with, on the other, a world where the future has been transformed.

“What we could see and feel for ourselves – hotter days, longer drought, water restrictions, extreme weather, bags and bags of garbage headed to landfill, rubbish blowing across the playground, abandoned chicken coops and overgrown gardens… It was easy to see the changes that we needed to make.”

This became the theme for Climb It and the inspiration for images such as a compost bin, a Return and Earn bin, a drought affected farm, pollution, bees, bushfires and an hourglass that reflected students’ feelings that Earth is running out of time.

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Students at Bennett Road Public School named their koala Dhara, which is Hindi for “planet Earth” and they began their project by asking “if you could change one thing in the world what would it be?” This led to Dhara becoming a depiction of the school lands’ history and an expression of the changes and initiatives the students want to make to their community.

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Dhara has a garbage bag scarf to symbolise animals coming into contact with plastics, and a traditional hat with swinging corks to symbolise the fair dinkum Australian culture. It also has 3D motifs of flowers to represent the importance of bees to the environment.

“Our koala is unique as it tells the story of our area visually while spreading a message about how to look after the planet. Our art work is one of a kind – not only you can see the koala but you can interact with all the pieces that are stuck to it such as the rubbish, flowers and animals.”

Shoutout to our Kreative Koalas supporting partners for helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today.

KK Sponsors




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