Young Australians are often painted as disengaged with politics.
In reality this generation has experienced perhaps the most rapid, dramatic shifts of societal standards than any other generation before them. Overwhelmingly this has resulted in a generation more driven toward progressing social change.
The ABC’s What’s Up in Your World survey highlights that young people may well be disengaged from Australian politics, with one in three rating politics as a concern. But while politics doesn’t rate highly key issues impacting their community, country or planet do.
Climate change, same-sex marriage and asylum-seeker policy were rated most important to young voters in a study conducted in 2016 by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth and Youth Action. The major parties didn’t campaign on these issues at the time, and so young people found other ways to make themselves heard – through rallies, petitions and
Of the over 100,000 new votes to join the electoral roll ahead of the Australian ‘yes’ marriage equality survey, an overwhelming 65% were young people. In the results – 78% of young people (aged 18-19) voted yes.
Young Australians aren’t disconnected or apathetic from what’s going on in the world around them. They’re disenchanted by politics and wondering if anything will be done about the issues they’re worried about.
We asked young Victorians what matters to them in the 2018 election. Some had a lot of issues on their list, others were clearly lead by one or two major issues. Here’s what they said:
Tom | 23
The Australian political issue that I care most about is the crisis on Nauru. While that’s not primarily a state issue, it’s a source of great disaffection for me with respect to both major parties, so it will affect my vote. The reason I care about it is because I’m so distressed by the reports of trauma, rape, abuse, neglect that continue to be leaked in one way or another, and because the very premise of offshore detention is so unjust to begin with.
It’s the most important issue for me because the crisis is so urgent and pressing, and yet could so quickly be put to an end (although the damage cannot be undone).
Alyce | 29
Violence against women; public housing and rental pressure, particularly for single occupiers who can no longer afford to rent on their own and vulnerable people facing huge waiting lists for public housing; climate change and protection of natural resources; and sustainable agriculture practices. I’m also concerned about recognition and treatment of Indigenous people, but I’m not sure it’s my place to speak on how these can be overcome through policy.
Dashiell | 24
Climate change is the number one priority for me, because I honestly believe we have less than 20 years of a liveable planet and we need to do something about it now.
Rose | 28
I have quite a few priorities for the upcoming state election including renters rights, asylum seekers, and saving public housing.
The housing crisis and low wages means we have lots of renters, and we need to protect their rights and quality of living. People should be able to enter the rental market fairly (i.e. caps on rent increases, allowing pets and reasonable modifications to properties, safety and quality standard of rented houses need improvement, landlords not allowed to accept competitive offers of weekly rent as opposed to advertised price). I know the rental laws were passed by the Andrew’s Government, but these could be watered down depending on who gets in so it is still an area of concern for me.
I think we need better resources for asylum seekers and new immigrants, better education and campaigning for acceptance of newly arrived people. Australia needs to address our gross human rights violations on Manus and Nauru. We need local council and state government to rally behind shutting them down and finding people safe long term housing. And this links with the closure of much public housing. The new model of having public housing in yuppy apartment blocks does not work. It only leads to ostracism and a greater divide and judgement of socioeconomic classes.
Jacinta | 24
I care about housing affordability, and investment in public infrastructure including transport concerns and education. I care because these are issues that affect me personally and professionally, and I have concerns for the future of my community.
Sam | 27
My biggest concerns and top priorities are seeing effective environmental policy, something actually done about the lack of wage growth, sorting out an outdated and ineffective education system and improving infrastructure to better prepare for future cities and towns.
Jimmy | 23
My top two priorities are education and healthcare. We need to do better to support the education system at all levels. Healthcare needs to be allow more people to access more medicine and the treatments they need.
Chrissie | 26
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues that we face globally today, and this needs to be addressed in Victoria for instance by transitioning away from our reliance on oil and designing infrastructure that encourages the use of bicycles and public transport.
It’s a problem that impacts the safety of millions of people, as well as having a negative impact on food security. The longer it goes unchecked, the more difficult it will be to address in future. This is why addressing climate change needs to be at the centre of government policies and investment.
Diarmuid | 24
I care most about improving Victoria’s education system to give all young people the best opportunities. I also care about climate change, and support policies that take advantage of Australia’s renewable energy.
Tharindu | 24
I care about the accessibility of appropriate mental health care for young people that takes into consideration the diversity we show in our communities. Youth-centered and inclusive mental health care isn’t widely available unless you’re near a specialised youth mental health service and are willing/can safely navigate what can be months on waiting lists.
This is important to me because I’ve navigated mental care services both as a client and as a service provider and have faced first hand the inaccessibility of mental health care services to young people and the subsequent lack of faith in support, particularly with primary, secondary and tertiary students.
The past twenty years has seen the debate about Australia’s future, and the role of public policy, largely shaped by the needs and interests of our aging population. But as the generation who will be charged with caring for an aging population where by 2042, there will only be approx 2.5 working people for every person over 65, not to mention in charge of driving our economy forward – it’s essential we sit up and take notice of what our future is calling for.