Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

They Never Said

They Never Said

Lina Zhang

Year 10


I felt liberated.

The icy liquid rose over

my folded brown skin.

A distinctive scent

mixed with a hint

of the fresh sea led me

to one hundred others.

Our long white tusks

placed delicate beads of air

on the glassy surface

which trailed our summer hunt.

I felt exuberant.

As my whiskers fluttered

I steered my flippers upwards

and dived down to claim

my victory

the treasures of

the shallow sea floor.

My prize soon vanished

and was replaced with

the gift of a peaceful siesta

from my father

on a blue and white

leopard print landscape.

I felt serene.

Surrounded by safety

I lied down

on the cool, wet ice.

I measured where the ocean faded

with the edge of the rigid cube.

The chatter rose

as the children played

and my eyes flickered

on and off

until complete darkness

overtook me.


I feel restricted.

Standing on top of a cliff

against my chest I could feel

my sister's careful sniff.

No more accidents.

My father ordered

as an elder slipped.

My uncle's hands cornered

my shivering body

not letting go.

Many are on the rotten beach

I know.

Some waiting

some gone.

I feel petrified.

Someone else failed to hold on

a voice shot through my ears

a coarse noise

processed through sandpaper

a masculine voice.

I leave my traces

as I go through the narrow path

full of terrified faces

and stop before a wide gap

just enough

for one of us

where my father

had been standing.


“Economy matters”

They said

“Healthcare matters”

They said

“Everyone matters”

They said


“Environment matters”

They never said.


Climate change is real. Walruses are killing themselves due to melting ice. Walruses live on ice, which are disappearing at a rapid pace and their only option is to climb up rocky cliffs to rest. Walruses have poor eyesight out of water, which means that they cannot see the danger. Many accidentally slides off the edge of the cliff as a result of wanting to search for food and crash into hard rocks as they fall. The beach below the cliff is filled with the corpses of these unfortunate walruses.

It hurts me to see these innocent animals suffer. Because of us. Because of climate change. Yet, politicians are ignoring the truth and choosing to not address these issues. Soon, it will be too late. We need action now.