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Resilient but hurting: how young Australians feel

New study reveals what matters to young people in Australia today

An extensive report gauging the pressures experienced by young Australians has been released by Monash University’s Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice.

After a comprehensive survey of 505 young people from every corner of the nation and a series of in-depth interviews, the Understanding Young People in Australia Today report echoes the voices of Australia’s 18-24 year olds. 

This is the second annual Australian Youth Barometer report released by the Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice (CYPEP) since its establishment in 2021 and goes to the heart of issues that matter to young people today.

The report co-authored by Professor Lucas Walsh, Dr Beatriz Gallo Cordoba, Dr Catherine Waite, and Blake Cutler examines the impact of issues such as the economy, work, education, housing, well-being, relationships and participation in society through the eyes of young Australians. The report’s findings paint a sombre picture of how young Australians currently feel about their lives and their future.

“While young Australians are resilient, too many are hurting. They are experiencing poor mental health and nearly a quarter haven’t been able to access the food they need. They’re worried, anxious and pessimistic about the future. After years of disruption, nearly half felt as though they missed out on being young,” says lead author Professor Lucas Walsh. 

In regards to education, the report found that a sense of belonging matters to young Australians, but less than half of the respondents felt like they belonged when they were at their educational institution. The types of qualifications young people are choosing is changing, with nearly 60 per cent of respondents reporting that they hold, or have been enrolled in, a micro-credential, micro-degree or micro masters. Only 53 per cent of young Australians agree that their education prepared them for the future.

Almost one-quarter rate their mental health as poor or very poor. Most respondents, (85 per cent) reported feelings of worry, anxiety or pessimism. Almost one-half (45 per cent ) often felt as though they were missing out on being young. 

The report’s co-author, Dr Beatriz Gallo Cordoba, said that young people demand more government intervention across the board during tough times, but particularly when it comes to basic needs such as housing.

“The majority, 61 per cent, of young people identify housing as an area of priority that requires more government support. Young people should be consulted in developing and implementing solutions.”

Overall, the report indicates that over half of young Australians feel they will be worse off than their parents in the coming years. 

“Financial pressures are also felt unevenly by different communities. Gender diverse young people, for example, are far more pessimistic about owning a home. These financial challenges require urgent attention,” says co-author, Blake Cutler.

The Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice is a multi-disciplinary initiative undertaking research into the social, political and economic factors that affect young people’s lives. The Centre aims to change the conversation about young people’s futures and how we can work with them, educators and policy makers, to address disadvantages and build thriving communities.

Read the report here: The 2022 Australian Youth Barometer

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