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HomeOpinionEditorialWhat’s worrying our young people?

What’s worrying our young people?

Young people from NSW aged between 15 and 19 years have significant concerns relating to equity and discrimination, Covid-19, the environment and mental health.

These findings come from Mission Australia’s new Youth Survey Report 2020, which surveyed 25,800 from across the nation and 6,639 young people from our state to identify what they thought were the most pressing issues in Australia today.

That equity and discrimination rose from third place in 2019 (23.8 per cent) to the top spot in 2020 (42.5 per cent) – an increase of 79 per cent since last year – is deeply troubling. So, too, that nearly six in 10 (56.9 per cent) young people from NSW had witnessed someone being treated unfairly in the past year.

Mission Australia’s State Director Nada Nasser said: “This year, we’re hearing very strongly that our young people see discrimination as a major issue in Australia, and are very concerned about unfair treatment, with gender inequality being at the forefront of their concerns.

“Racial injustices are also something young people in NSW are seeing and experiencing in their own lives. Their own day-to-day experience of this discrimination, alongside escalating media coverage, public dialogue and grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter are likely to be influencing young people’s thoughts about the state of our country and our world.”

Ms Nasser said the year had been “like no other” for our young people, punctuated by rapid change and a range of new stresses and pressures.

She called for:

  • More funding and age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services for young people, and their involvement in creating solutions.
  • Targeted programs to help disadvantaged young people into work.
  • A permanent increase to income support payments to help alleviate financial stress and keep economically vulnerable young people and their families out of poverty and homelessness.
  • Flexible working hoursmore jobs in my local area and more work experience to increase their employment prospects (which young people said were important).
  • A clear commitment to partnering with young people to create initiatives that will help end gender and racial discrimination.

Ms Nasser said that, in the wake of the pandemic in NSW, young people must have adequate opportunities to access support services, education and jobs when and where they need them.

“Young people deserve every opportunity to not just survive, but to thrive and be heard,” she said.

“Ultimately, how we look after our young people now, will determine our country’s collective wellbeing in the future.”

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