The environment tops a list of issues that the nation’s youth hold most important in Australia.
Mission Australia’s latest Youth Survey Report 2023 provides a unique insight into the “thoughts, experiences, concerns and solutions” of Australia’s youth.
This year’s survey found that the environment, equity and discrimination, cost of living and mental health were the most important issues for the youth in Australia today.
More than 19,500 young people aged 15 to 19 throughout Australia were surveyed for the annual report.
The survey – Mission Australia’s 22nd youth report – was conducted between April and August.
“Responses were given amidst Australia’s severe weather disasters as well as public discussion and advocacy on climate change, mental health, the Voice Referendum and racism, the rising cost of living and the housing and homelessness crisis,” Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister said.
The results are shared with schools, governments, and other key policy makers throughout the nation.
Of the youth surveyed, 44 per cent said that the environment was one of the most important issues in the country.
While this was down 7 per cent from last year, it still ranks as the most important issue.
“In the past year, I have struggled with anxiety regarding my future, and climate change,” one 17-year-old female said in the report.
More than 30 per cent cited cultural and gender discrimination as an important issue. In fact, 27 per cent of the young people said they had been treated unfairly or discriminated against in the last year.
One teenage girl reported she had been discriminated against, “especially around school interactive environments.”
Further, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people rated their well-being lower than their non-indigenous peers on a range of measures,” the report stated. “And a greater proportion reported they were subject to unfair treatment or discrimination.”
Along with equity and discrimination, the cost of living in Australia ranked joint 2nd on the list.
As expected within the current economic climate of inflation and rising interest rates, more than a third of all people surveyed were worried about their finances, and the economy in general.
Indeed, 15 per cent said they either were extremely or very concerned about their financial security.
One 18-year-old reported that she had to work more, leaving less time to focus on her education.
As with last year’s survey, mental health was again a huge issue on the minds of Australia’s youth population.
“My mental health has probably been the biggest challenge for me in the last year,” said a male 17-year-old.
“I have been struggling with feeling down, stressed and overwhelmed.”
Ms Callister said that the youth “want better access to mental healthcare services, accurate diagnosis and treatment, support from their family and friends and professional help.
“Young people also voiced they’d like greater understanding from teachers and parents about stress levels.”
Young Australians were also concerned about the thousands of Australians who do not have a permanent place to call home.
Nearly 20 per cent (up from 12 per cent last year) were concerned about issues relating to homelessness (an issue in which Mission Australia is heavily invested).
“Homelessness is a traumatic experience which can have ongoing impacts on a person’s life, their well-being and their future,” Ms Callister said.
“As such, we strongly urge all levels of government to take immediate action to end homelessness.”
“Strong and resilient”
Ms Callister said that this year’s Youth Survey shows that young people “care about issues facing Australia and themselves, are strong and resilient, diverse and very capable,” she said.
“I urge everyone reading this report to take these young voices and perspectives seriously, create space for all young people, including First Nations young people, to be genuinely included in decision-making processes, and act upon their ideas and recommendations.”
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Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.
About the Author: Mike Crooks is a writer at Hope 103.2 Sydney
Feature image: Ernest Brillo on Unsplash