Four teenage girls are among dozens of protesters demanding government action on climate change to be arrested in Sydney on Monday.
The Extinction Rebellion climate protests movement has planned a “spring rebellion” from Monday to Sunday, including marches aimed at blocking traffic.
The protesters in Sydney were arrested and bundled into a mobile “custody unit” on Monday afternoon after they allegedly failed to move on when asked to do so by police.
Some 30 people were arrested, including four girls aged under 16, organisers say.
“Alleged offences committed range from obstructing traffic to disobeying reasonable direction,” New South Wales police said in a statement.
The assistant commissioner Mick Willing said police respected the right of groups and individuals to protest, but “we have a responsibility to the community and local businesses to ensure they can go about their normal activities without being impacted on or put at risk”.
“Unfortunately, despite the warnings issued by local police and our colleagues from across the country, this group continue to set out to break the law and put themselves and others at risk,” Willing said in a statement.
Monday’s rally saw hundreds of people march from Belmore Park to Sydney’s CBD via Pitt Street.
Among those walking were sisters 10-year-old Luka and 12-year-old Maddie Brett-Hall alongside Ember Henninger, also 10, from the Blue Mountains.
The march was their second protest after they attended a flash mob at Echo Point earlier in 2019.
“I feel like we need to make a difference,” Maddie told AAP.
Young voices weren’t being listened to enough, Ember said. “The government tells us to just be kids … and this makes me feel angry,” she said.
Earlier in the day the Victorian activist Miriam Robinson said the group must “get right up in people’s grills” to convince governments to take firm action on climate change.
“We always apologise for causing inconvenience,” the retired public servant told AAP on Monday.
“But this is nothing compared to the inconvenience that is going to start happening when we start to run out of food and water.”
The week’s events got off to a relaxed start in Melbourne with about 20 people attending a day-long meditation session on the steps of Victoria’s parliament.
About 100 people were at the movement’s base camp at Carlton Gardens, where some people discussed the group’s values.
But things are expected to ramp up in the evening, with protesters intending to make their presence known in the city by blocking an intersection.
There was a notable presence in Canberra on Monday morning, when nearly 300 people marched across Commonwealth Bridge, blocking traffic.
A march was also held in Brisbane, where people made their way across Victoria Bridge.
In Hobart about 30 people crossed the Tasman Bridge, though they were on a public walkway, with another handful stationing themselves outside state parliament.
In Perth, activists focused on the perspective of traditional owners and an Indigenous Welcome To Country ceremony.
Police have warned they will intervene if there is violence, significant disorder or if a safety risk is identified.
Extinction Rebellion specifically wants governments to “tell the truth” about climate change by declaring a climate and ecological emergency.
It also wants them to prevent biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and let the public drive decisions on climate change through a Citizens’ Assembly.