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Positive Action: Science and psychology to support young Australians with climate distress

23 September 2022
Climate change panel discussion for young Australians
The Matilda Centre and Net Zero Initiative bring you "Positive Action: Science and psychology to support young Australians with climate distress" to discuss the mental health impacts of climate change, arm young people with practical coping strategies, and discover Net Zero solutions that industry can implement to bring about change.

University of Sydney researchers, Professor Deanna D'Alessandro and Dr Erin Kelly, have led the creation of Positive Action: Science and psychology to support young Australians with climate distress with the aim of empowering young people through sharing lived experience, research on innovative scientific advances for climate change, and suggestions for engaging in active coping and supporting each other.

Professor Deanna D'Alessandro

Professor Deanna D'Alessandro

"We have new technologies to remove historical emissions of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," says Dr D'Alessandro. "This is a key strategy for fighting climate change and we are working with industry partners on solutions for carbon removals."

"While these new technologies are being piloted, we must still live with climate change and the anxiety that goes hand-in-hand with it," continues Professor D'Alessandro. "Speaking to researchers at the Matilda Centre about active coping strategies has been insightful," she adds.

Dr Erin Kelly

Dr Erin Kelly

Dr Kelly was fascinated when she first found out about the research that Professor D'Alessandro and her team were conducting, "learning about these new technologies and their potential can help young people have hope for the future of our environment". Dr Kelly adds that "by empowering people with this knowledge we can campaign for industries to adapt to carbon neutral and carbon negative solutions.

Professor D'Alessandro and Dr Kelly are excited to bring together a panel of experts in climate distress, carbon removal, and the voice of young Australians for the Positive Action online event. "We hope this event inspires young people to engage in active coping and advocate for industries to harness technologies that will bring the world to net zero," Professor D'Alessandro concludes.

Meet the panel

Professional photos of panel members

Associate Professor Alice Motion is a chemist and science communicator based at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on open science and Science Communication, Outreach, Participation and Education (SCOPE). Finding ways to connect people with science and to make research more accessible is the overarching theme of Alice’s interdisciplinary research.

Alice is the founder of the Breaking Good project – a citizen science project that aims to empower high school and undergraduate students to be active researchers in projects that will improve human health.

Sam is a PhD student and is co-leading the Musk Foundation student XPRIZE team. He holds a Masters of Science in Energy and  Sustainability from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Operations Research & Information Engineering from Cornell University. His PhD focuses on technoeconomics and Social License to operate for Direct Air Capture, and is jointly supervised by Professor Chris Wright from the Business School. He was a Direct Air Capture consultant at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C. and authors RemoveCarbon.co.

Cheryl Ou is the chairperson of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE) and Matilda Centre Youth Advisory Board (YAB), providing input into the governance and research priorities of PREMISE and contribute to specific youth-focused research projects. The YAB comprises a culturally, linguistically and gender diverse group of 10 members aged 16-25, with representatives from metropolitan, rural, regional and remote areas of Australia. They bring expertise and an interest in mental health and substance use via their own lived experience, that of their families or communities.

Dr Susie Burke is a psychologist, researcher, writer, and climate change campaigner with a background in individual and couples therapy, group work, conflict resolution, disaster psychology, parenting issues, and environmental issues. 

Susie helps people cope with and come to terms with climate change and disasters.

Carol Ride is a psychologist and founder of Psychology for a Safe Climate.

Carol has worked as a therapist and trainer for more than 30 years and has been involved in the climate movement since 2006, helping form a local community climate action group.

Carol has worked as a psychologist in the field of couple therapy, as a therapist, supervisor and trainer. Her shift to work in the field of climate change as a psychologist and activist is motivated by the urgent need to contribute to engaging and supporting people in responding to the unfolding climate crisis. She believes the huge injustice being done to our young people throughout the world is unconscionable.

Louise is a clinical psychologist with 25 years experience, across a range of settings, who was introduced to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in 2004 and became a peer reviewed trainer in 2012. She works as a therapist, supervisor, trainer, and executive coach and is the director of The Sydney ACT Centre. She is also a mum and step mum to three gorgeous girls, and this is what drives her commitment to climate action.

Alongside her clinical work, she has spent the past few years as a Sydney organiser for the group, Australian Parents for Climate Action where she engages daily with a bunch of dedicated parents working towards a safe and sustainable future for their children and future generations.

Caitlin Ward

Research Communications Specialist

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