MEDIA RELEASE: ‘Ignored and left out’ – Young people respond to 2021 Federal Budget

MEDIA RELEASE: ‘Ignored and left out’ – Young people respond to 2021 Federal Budget

Youth-led organisations Tomorrow Movement, Common Ground, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Think Forward, Run For It, and the National Union for Students (NUS), say the Australian Government’s 2021 Budget has failed to address young people’s key concerns and needs.

Tomorrow Movement / Common Ground / Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) / Think Forward / Run For It / National Union for Students (NUS)

No clear jobs plan for young people (Tomorrow Movement) 

With youth unemployment still at 11.8% (and long term unemployment numbers at a 26-year high), the Budget does not fund access to safe, secure and meaningful work for young people. The extension of JobTrainer does not fix the fact there are simply not enough jobs available. The Budget also fails to address the rising issue of young people in insecure casual and part time jobs barely making enough money to get by.

“There are still around nine job seekers for every job advertised in Australia. More training doesn’t create jobs, it creates more skilled young people looking for jobs that don’t exist,” said Organising Lead at the Tomorrow Movement, Desiree Cai.

Additionally, the $481.2 million to continue the Transition to Work program is not a comprehensive youth employment plan, and will not address the broader issues of youth unemployment, underemployment, and insecure work.

“The Government has removed essential income supports, their JobMaker scheme has failed, and this Budget won’t create pathways out of Australia’s youth unemployment crisis. What we urgently need is a Climate Jobs Guarantee, one that puts people to work to solve the climate crisis and end unemployment.”

Budget fails to think long-term, lacks First Nations thinking (Common Ground)

The 2021 Budget approaches fiscal planning too narrowly to adequately support future generations, and fails to engage First Nations people who can bring the systems lens required to ensure a sustainable future for Australia. Rona Glynn-McDonald, CEO of Common Ground, questions how tonight’s announcements will be translated into real political action.

“Within this budget announcement, we are continuing to see short term thinking that fails to centre intergenerational impact and a systems lens that would enable the budget to create thriveability for future generations,” said Rona. 

“This fiscal spend showcases siloed intentions that do not consider the complex and interconnected systems that underpin the biggest challenges of our time. Our budgets need deep systems thinking and knowledge that can only be achieved if First Nations leadership is centered, ensuring we can protect Country and meet the aspirations of our future generations.”

No public funding for gas (AYCC) 

The Government has committed to a gas-led economic recovery, pledging an additional $58.6 million to gas projects in the Budget that will further damage the environment and risk people’s health.

“While our communities are struggling with job losses and attacks on JobSeeker, the Morrison Government is transferring billions of our public funding to fast track dirty gas projects,” said Alex Fuller, National Director at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

“Time is running out to take action against climate change – instead the Government has chosen to funnel taxpayers’ money into fossil fuel corporations. It’s past time to invest in local, community focussed job programs to address climate change and move our economy to 100% renewables by 2030, including retraining and job creation programs for fossil fuel communities.”

Tax and spending priorities continue to increase intergenerational inequality (Think Forward) 

“Young people want to live a quality life. We want to move out of home, have a secure career, own a home and build up wealth for retirement. But many young people are genuinely fearful of what our economic future looks like, and we hoped the budget would begin to address these concerns.

“While there are some welcome announcements, on the whole the budget once again continues to entrench intergenerational inequality by not addressing the challenges younger generations face and leaving in place intergenerationally unjust tax and spending policies,” said Think Forward’s Thomas Walker.

The housing policies announced do not address the root causes of unaffordable housing. They are simply a continuation of business as usual that sees increasing wealth for some, while locking out young people leading to economic insecurity and housing stress. 

The focus on skills development and education is welcome, but our TAFE and University sectors remain in crisis. More needs to be done to rebuild our education systems to global best standards ensuring a supply of quality graduates for the industries of the future, which can supply good, secure employment for young people.

Think Forward accepts that the Government needs to spend vast amounts of money at this time. But, it is critical that that money is invested in projects and programs that support economic development over the long-term. Unfortunately, there is no long-term plan or vision for the nation’s finances and how the debt will be repaid. This adds to the future economic uncertainty for young Austrlalians, who will be tasked with repaying the debt accrued. 

Budget fails to deliver on key issues for young people (Run for It)

“Young people need to be at the centre of Australia’s economic recovery, or we risk leaving a whole generation behind,” Run for It Ambassador, Jahin Tanvir said. “This Budget has ignored and left out young people.” 

“Young people care about climate change, secure work, financial independence, and a social safety net where no one is living in poverty. This Budget fails to deliver on the issues young people care about.”

Social security support for young people ignored (NUS)

The Federal Budget excludes temporary visa holders and most young people under 22 (the Centrelink age of independence) from social security support, and leaves people relying on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance living below the poverty line.  

“The Australian Government should be investing in future generations to live and study without the stress of paying for their next meal or a stable place to live hanging over their heads. This means providing a safety net for everyone – including international students and young people over 18 still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic,“ said Zoe Ranganathan, President at the NUS. 

The Federal Budget also unveiled an almost 10% cut from higher education each year from 2021-22 to 2024-25, a pathway for international students to return that will be too late for universities to recover. 

“When we thought there wasn’t a worse time to be a university student in Australia, the Coalition Government has laid out a four-year long attack on our education and shown an utter neglect for domestic students. There is silence on higher education, and the disdain for tertiary education is clear,” said Chris Hall, Education Officer at NUS.

For further information contact FYA’s Youth Media Centre Lead – Izzy Tolhurst via 0423 777 904 or izzy.tolhurst@fya.org.au

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