This morning, FYA brought together young people from across Australia to discuss what the 2019 Federal Budget means for them.
A new Australian Government budget is announced each year, and looks at how the Government will spend (and try to save) money that year and beyond. Spending is always tied to the leading party’s social and political priorities. You can read the full 2019 Budget (or just take a glance) here.
We had representatives from national youth organisations like Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVIC), Plan International, Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS), Think Forward and YOUNG join a panel discussion. Here’s what they had to say on some of the big ticket items.
Education and employment
This one’s a biggie, and there was a lot committed to upskilling in this year’s budget, including a $525 million skills package targeting apprenticeships and vocational education. Despite this contribution, Ruvimbo Togara believes that greater support is needed for helping people at school and university navigate their careers. It can be wild out there! As a Youth Ambassador for Brimbank City Council, a YLAB Global Associate and Plan International Youth Activist, she says this support is particularly needed for those who have unconventional paths to work, choosing not to go to university, for example.
People were also concerned that the 2019 Federal Budget made no increases to Centrelink payments like Newstart or Youth Allowance, which provide financial support while people are looking for work and undertaking study. Cat Nadel, co-founder of youth campaigning organisation YOUNG, which seeks greater economic justice for young people, said it was troubling to think that young people could be left behind without this support. Oh, just a quick public service announcement on this— pursuing social security payments does not make you a dole bludger.
Environment and climate change
Crickets, tumbleweeds, blank-faced stares…however you mark silence, it seemed to be abundant on an issue young people have been really noisy about … funding of environmental action and pollution reduction. Cat, also a Safe Climate Campaigner at Environment Victoria, referenced calculations showing that for every dollar spent on the environment in the 2019 Budget, $4 will be spent on subsidising pollution. She said that this lack of action is precisely what young Australians worry about, and that even the term “climate change” seemed to be missing from Tuesday’s announcement.
Rebecca Slavin, a Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) worker on the Bass Coast in Victoria’s south-east and the region’s 2016 Young Citizen of the Year welcomed the near half a billion dollars allocated to mental health and suicide prevention strategy. This includes $152 million for additional Headspace services and $111 million for 30 new Headspace centres, increasing the impact the national youth mental health body can have. However, Rebecca felt regional and rural communities were in need of greater attention in this space, noting the need for improved public transport to enable young people to access support services in their region.
Taxation, superannuation and franking credits
We beg you, don’t glaze over at the mention of franking credits! It’s important, and just because it doesn’t always feel like it affects young people directly, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in the conversation about inclusive economic and superannuation policy. Sonia Arakkal led the charge on this issue during the panel discussion, referencing her work as co-founder of Think Forward. They recently called for reform of Australia’s tax and superannuation systems to secure a fair economic future for young people. But Sonia wasn’t pleased to find out that the 2019 Budget offered a range of superannuation and tax concessions to people 60 years and over, but little in the way of supporting young people in this space.
Oh, and if you want to know more about franking credits, you can read up via the Australian Taxation Office website.
With this issue we had the upcoming Federal Election in mind, due to be called in a matter of days, but it has a lot to do with our young panel and audience. It’s youth representation, or a lack thereof. Acknowledging this, there was a general consensus that young people need to be more involved and considered in the Australian democratic process. From having a dedicated youth minister, to more young people in parliament, to regular consultation with youth organisations, to getting an actual young person to be the youngest federal parliamentarian (the current one is 31), to lower the voting age—all these ideas were seen as central to being heard and included in politics now and into the future.
We also put the question of lowering the voting age to our Instagram community, and a whopping 76% believed it should indeed be lowered to 16 years.
With the federal election to be called in a matter of days, we’ll keep you covered on the issues that matter most to young people. While you’re here, find out more about FYA’s Future Skills Framework, a campaign that demands young people be put at the centre of education and employment reform, so that no-one is left behind.