Survey: Young people are most concerned about discrimination

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CANBERRA’S young people are most concerned about equity and discrimination, according to Mission Australia’s new “Youth Survey Report 2020”.

In fact, the survey shows young people’s concerns about equity and discrimination doubled since last year, with 42.4 per cent of the young people surveyed saying they’re concerned about it – up from 20.6 per cent.

Close to one quarter (23.4 per cent) of young people from the ACT had been treated unfairly in the past year and nearly half (46 per cent) reported the unfair treatment was due to their gender. Other reasons for unfair treatment were race/cultural background (29.8 per cent) and mental health (24.6 per cent). Over half (53.2 per cent) of young people from the ACT reported they had witnessed someone being treated unfairly in the past year.

The report surveyed 25,800 young people aged between 15 to 19 years old, including 1230 young people from the ACT, and found that the second most concern for young people in Canberra is COVID-19 (37.7 per cent), and then the environment (34.3 per cent).

Mission Australia’s ACT regional leader Daniel Strickland says: “Young people from the ACT are telling us clearly this year that they see discrimination as a major issue in Australia and are very concerned about unfair treatment, particularly discrimination on the base of gender. It’s important we don’t explain away or dismiss young people’s concerns about gender inequality.”

“Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, young people in the ACT are seeing and experiencing racial discrimination in their day-to-day lives,” he says.  

“Their experiences of racism, together with other factors such as increased media coverage, public dialogue and grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter are likely be to impacting young people’s views on Australia and our world.”

This year has also seen substantial interruptions to young people’s education and employment, with the survey revealing a smaller proportion of ACT young people were studying full-time this year (88.8 per cent) than in 2019 (94.4 per cent). At a time where youth unemployment has increased due to COVID-19, young people in the ACT said they most need flexible working hours, more jobs in my local area and more work experience to increase their employment prospects.

“We know young people will be particularly affected by the recession caused by COVID-19, as many are transitioning from education to work when fewer jobs are available. Now is the time for more targeted programs to help disadvantaged young people into work,” Mr Strickland says.

“A permanent increase to income support payments would also help reduce financial stress and keep economically vulnerable young people and their families out of poverty and homelessness.”

But there was some good news with the report showing that the majority (60.9 per cent) of young people from the ACT felt very happy/happy with their lives and more than half (57.2 per cent) are very positive/positive about the future. Over half (51.8 per cent) of young people from the ACT indicated high levels of confidence in their ability to achieve their study and work goals and most young people have good family relationships. 

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