Read the article written by Katie Acheson the Chairwoman of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition about how we are ignoring building opportunities for young people.
Australia's young people are under attack
By Katie Acheson
The Age 19 April 2018 — 1:20pm
There's a war being waged in Australia - on our 4.3 million young people. You hear it in the negative and dispiriting language of our national conversation, from being told to just 'get a good job' or 'cut back on the smashed avo' as the solution to housing affordability, to Prime Minister Turnbull's assertion his cabinet is 'young at heart' when the average age of that cabinet is over 50. Young people and the issues they face are being trivialised.
And you see it in the actions of Parliament. The first shots in this war rang out five years ago, when the Youth Minister position was removed from cabinet for the first time since 1978. Then the government systematically dismantled almost all the mechanisms it had to hear from young people. In 2014 the national peak body for young people was defunded and the Office for Youth disappeared.
And now it is Youth Week, although you might not know it, given the government cut its funding in 2017. It's meant to be a time when Australia celebrates the role young people play in our community, through events, art shows, awards and festivals. But every year it's getting harder to celebrate.
The issues facing young people are not going away. Far from it. The trends suggest life is getting more difficult. The youth unemployment rate sits at 13 per cent. Suicide is still the leading cause of death for those under 25. Rates of youth homelessness have jumped. We have record-low levels of housing affordability, and inaction on key environmental and social issues. Young people have been left asking themselves why nothing is changing for the better.
A chasm has emerged between the "young" and "not so young" in Australia and we're fast approaching a point of no return. We have an ageing population and severely unaffordable housing, and young people with mounting debts and falling job prospects.
Australia has created almost one million jobs in the past five years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Yet in that time, youth unemployment has risen from 12 to 12.5 per cent, peaking at a high of 14.5 per cent in 2015.
A landmark report issued on Thursday by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research predicts a jobs bonanza by 2024. But without spending the time and money supporting young people to make the transition from study to work and to access affordable, quality education and training, young people will find it difficult to benefit from the millions of nursing, teaching, farming and technology industry jobs we will create in the coming decades.
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Young people are not just the future, they're also the very-necessary present. The age pension, family benefits and concessions Australians receive are built on the assumption that a new generation of highly-skilled workers will emerge and be engaged in meaningful work. Without their taxes, that support stops and our standard of living declines.
We need those young people to invest in the country both financially and politically. However, like any relationship, it's a two-way street. Without parliament showing any interest in young people, politicians will find their message falling on deaf ears.
That's a dangerous move. The 1.6 million voters aged 18 – 24 make up 10 per cent of the electorate and have the highest number of swing voters in any demographic. And young people are politically aware. Look around the world right now - young people are mobilising and making it impossible to ignore them. We are one of the only Commonwealth countries without a Youth Minister. Australia is one of the few developed countries without a national youth strategy. Isn't it time to stop take young people out of the firing line and stand with them instead?
Katie Acheson is chairwoman of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.
The YWA Vision
November 26, 2016
UPDATED POST YWA Annual General Meeting Wednesday 12th June 2019