By Nick Doyle
In August 2022, 350 Boorloo Perth in conjunction with Fossil Free UWA held a special screening of Damon Gameau’s short film Regenerating Australia.
The film presents itself as a faux news report from the eve of the year 2030 as Gameau guides us through the decade that was and how Australia came to be a progressive powerhouse in the not-so-distant future.
Extensive interviews were conducted for the film with a diverse range of Australians on the future they would want to live in and the issues they would like to see addressed by the end of the decade.
Gameau’s newsreader character, along with an array of special guests including Kerry O’Brien, Sandra Sully, Gorgi Coghlan, Patrick Abboud, Larissa Behrendt and David Pocock, deliver news stories including: Australia running on 90 per cent renewable energy for the first time, enacting a restriction on political donations, instating a federal corruption commission, and recognising First Nations sovereignty.
Gameau and Co present an Australia where our country isn’t driven by greed at the cost of our natural environment. It shows us what can happen when people come before profit, where our planet and First Nations peoples are at the forefront.
As Gameau states in the film, “These changes didn’t just happen on their own, citizens, communities, and businesses have all stepped up and shown our leaders how to lead.”
After the screening, viewers were treated to a panel discussion and Q&A session on the film and the topics it raises. The guests of honour on the night were Dr Brad Pettitt, Greens MLC for South Metro and former Mayor of Freo; Jarrod McKenna, former Director for Nonviolent Social Change for World Vision and host of theology and social justice podcast ‘InVerse’; and Bec Perse, convenor of Fossil Free UWA, and member of the Sustainable Universities Network.
The panellists discussed their thoughts on the film and the future of the country, and what they personally want to see in a regenerated Australia.
The trio also warned of the challenges facing us in achieving the outcomes set out in the film. Bec Perse spoke of the reluctance of the fossil fuel industry to willingly phase out production of coal and gas.
“I think they will go down kicking and screaming,” she said. “Those at the very top of these organisations will try to hold on to that power. They’ll probably try to convince us we’ll be doomed if we switch to renewables.”
Jarrod McKenna also spoke about the importance of connection within the movement for social and environmental change and the fight to “deepen democracy.”
“It’s not about more ideas, certainly not coming from the three people at the front,” he said, “it’s about how we connect and deepen those connections so we can build trust and risk what is necessary to take us to the only viable living future.”
While Dr Pettitt spoke about the need to rebuild the climate movement after the COVID pandemic stalled the push for change.
“It’s so important to rebuild that momentum because acting on climate is something governments and corporations will only do reluctantly. They will only do it if people push them and without that bottom-up push they will move as slowly as they can. And we’ve gotta move fast.”
Regenerating Australia poignantly and succinctly shows us a glimpse of a future that is entirely possible and almost achingly tangible. But to achieve this will require everyone to come together to fight for the future they want to see. It is now up to us to make this vision a reality.
Thuy Nguyen of the Sydney Alliance states in the film “If not me, who? If not now, when? It’s never too late to stand up and take action.”