A Frensham student knows what matters and it has won her a national award.
Mia, who is in Year 11, was announced as the overall winner for the Whitlam Institute's prestigious 2019 What Matters? writing competition, with her piece 'The air is different here'.
Inspired by Gough Whitlam's commitment to involving young people in the shaping of Australia, the competition asks students in Years 5 to 12 a simple question: What Matters?
There were more than 4400 entries submitted this year.
Mia's award-winning piece was inspired by climate change while she was on holidays.
"I wasn't sure what to write about. It was the holidays and I remember being down at the beach and getting really angry because I was watching all these videos online of this [American] senator putting forward this deal on climate change," she said.
"Everyone was rebutting her and saying it was too costly, that it doesn't work. She's 28 and everyone rebutting her is 60-plus and I just went, 'Well, you're not the people that climate change will affect.'
"So I just wrote about that.
"I wrote about the demands and climate strikes part first because that was me being really angry. The climate strikes are the most visual part of democracy. And then I made it all nice."
As for being announced as the overall winner, Mia said that it was "really unexpected."
"It was awesome but definitely unexpected.
"The competition itself was great, I loved reading all the final entries and all the [entries] from the girls in my year.
"I think it's a really good way to write about what you care about."
"It's not a big word limit, it's like 400 - 600 words. It's a great way to practise condensing your ideas."
Finalists were required to attend a civic leadership workshop and a writing workshop with Bernard Cohen, followed by the award ceremony.
The award was presented by journalist Peter FitzSimons, on behalf of the Whitlam Institute's 'What Matters?' patron, journalist Lisa Wilkinson.
Read Mia's award winning piece 'The air is different here' below, published with her permission.
The air is different there.
It hangs, still and silent in the frosted dawn.
Any minute now, the early winter sun will crack over the horizon and spill light into the chasms gouged between the mountain peaks. Shadows, pale and long will stretch over rooftops and pine trees and the snow coating the ground will become a cascade of oranges and pinks reflecting off the faces of the children on their way to school.
The creek is running now.
Sprinting, in fact, in a desperate bid to escape the ice so determined to enslave it for the next seven months.
The deer don't mind this, because at last there's a partner equally matched for swiftness.
So they race, their cloven hooves hardly touching the ground, the faces of the foxes small and darting amongst the white clearings.
Up above, the skies stretch a wide expanse, their colours captivating children and adults alike, safe-guarding the winter to come.
This world is the one I knew. I knew the short days and breathless mornings. I knew the deer and the foxes and the creek. Above all else, I knew the mountains. I knew their enormity, and their white-tipped peaks and the sharp shadows they cast in the afternoon sun, a geometric anomaly against the prairies laid at their feet. I knew their meaning, their presence, the people they inspire.
650 000 years since carbon dioxide levels have been this high.
2018: hottest year on record.
1/2 of the coral reefs dead in the last 30 years.
1 000 000 species facing extinction.
200 000 000 people displaced by climate change by 2050.
10 years to change.
For many, it is difficult to understand the severity of the situation from numbers on the page. For this generation, we don't need to. We see the consequences.
The climate strikes which students across the world have been attending for the past months are not a request for action.
They are a demand.
They are a demand for a world where polar bears, orangutans, turtles, penguins, the Amazon and coral reefs will not be the stuff of legends we tell our children at bedtime.
They are a demand for the government, servants of the people, to carry out the actions needed for the continuation of a world we will be proud to pass on to the next generation.
They are a demand for our children to be given the chance to keep their chins tilted up, looking out onto a world brimming with future.
The air is different here.
It tumbles around itself, drunk and stumbling in the heat, imprinting the smell of eucalyptus and dust into every crevice of the earth.
The fields stretch, their browns and reds and muted greens rising to meet the sky at the horizon, the blue as vast a realm as the ground below it.
Oceans, blue and eager roar to greet the jagged cliffs and the clouds above are mirrored in the whitecaps of the waves.
Dolphins dip, in and out of the water, a delight to all on shore.
This is my home. This is our home. It deserves to matter.