Young Australians are feeling particularly hard hit by cost of living pressures, a new survey shows, and their social and economic prospects are increasingly bleak.
- A new report finds young Australians are experiencing “very different structural pressures” than previous generations.
- It found that 90% of those surveyed had experienced financial difficulties in the past year.
- Young Australians increasingly call for action to make housing more affordable
The third edition Australian Youth Barometer — A Monash University survey of 571 Australians aged 18 to 24 — found they face “very different structural pressures” compared to previous generations.
Lead researcher Professor Lucas Walsh told The Drum the results are “much bleaker” than in previous years, with 43 per cent of young Australians saying they feel they are missing out on their youth.
“Being a young person means experiencing a whole range of things, it’s making the transition from school to work and later life, it’s also a time of experimentation,” Professor Walsh said.
“The idea of getting out into the world and trying new things both through employment and social life, year after year we see young people feeling like they’re missing out on those things.”
Professor Walsh said the pandemic, inflation and low rental vacancy rates had “created a perfect storm that is negatively affecting young people”.
Seventy percent of young Australians believe affordable housing is an issue that requires immediate action from governments, an increase of 9 percent from the 2022 report.
When it comes to education, while 71 percent said they had taken some form of informal online classes, almost half of those surveyed said they felt their education had not adequately prepared them for their future .
Consistent with 2022 data, nine in ten respondents reported experiencing financial hardship in the past year, and one in five reported experiencing food insecurity in the past 12 months.
More than a quarter say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about climate change, and only 31% think it will likely be tackled in their lifetime.
“The last five years in particular have really been characterized by disruption to their education, work and social lives. They have come out of the pandemic and entered a period where, despite young people’s employment prospects are relatively good – according to other indicators, they “Our situation is much worse,” said Professor Walsh.
It found that young people from high socio-economic backgrounds (70%) were more likely to live in their family home than those from medium (57%) and low socio-economic backgrounds (38%).
Housing availability and affordability was a significant daily concern for young people, citing unmanageable rent increases, short-term leases, and limited housing availability.
Political action and consultation needed
Angelica Ojinnaka represented Australia at the United Nations Youth Participation Program. She told The Drum that she doesn’t see the annual trend of increasing negativity ending anytime soon.
“These problems will only get worse. I am less optimistic about next year’s barometer unless we see greater community support,” Ms Ojinnaka said.
“It confirms everything we’ve seen unfold over the past year and I love that this is the picture we’re finally seeing.
“It paints a very big and obvious picture that we need to stop looking at the issues that concern young people as isolated – they’re all connected. We need to look at them from a holistic perspective rather than a single lens.”
Ms Ojinnaka said political action and consultations are urgently needed to change course.
“Snapshots like this of young people’s lives are fantastic, but the key lies in the long-term solution,” she said.
“We have now presented to you, you see, a bit of a portrait of our own life, when we come back with the next barometer, how are you going to change the life of a young person through any of these elements?
“Young people need to be consulted and involved in assessing what is changing.”