Authors

Prepared by yourtown

Background

In 2021, over 3,500 young people from around Australia engaged with yourtown’s Your Voice Project. The project was designed to provide a mechanism for young people (aged 15-24) across Australia to provide input into Australian Government decision-making processes on issues affecting them and their future.

Key findings

Young people told us that they face multiple, varied and complex issues in all aspects of life. This includes:

  • How their mental health has been impacted by COVID-19, multiple and long lockdowns, and the fear and uncertainty about COVID-19’s long-term impacts to health and society
  • The many barriers young people face in accessing appropriate and timely support; and how services (particularly, mental health services) are not always designed to meet their needs, and practitioners often do not understand, or know how to help or work with them
  • How the education system leaves them stressed, and they don’t have the supports they need to help them achieve their best
  • How they feel under-prepared to enter the workforce, and are worried about finding a job that will pay enough to support them
  • How they feel financially stressed by the high cost of living, including housing and transport, particularly if they rely on welfare, while they are unemployed or studying
  • How they do not feel safe
  • How those from diverse groups often struggle with accessing assistance and preparing themselves for the future
  • Many felt hopeless because of climate change, and uncertain about what government was doing about it and its priorities
  • A generalised lack of knowledge and trust in government and its processes

We also heard the positives about services and supports. This includes:

  • Welcoming the increase to the number of sessions available under the Mental Health Treatment Plan and the expansion of telehealth services
  • The extra funding for helplines, as these are an essential resource when other services are not available
  • That quality support in school was invaluable, as it allowed them to focus on and finish their education
  • That the COVID-19 supplement was essential in supporting young people and their families during lockdown, as it led to the ability to afford essentials, pay off debt and access medical treatment
  • Funding for specialist youth services assists with improving safety and access to support.

94 participants workshopped options for reform and recommended the Government consider:

  1. Supporting the development of Youth Wellbeing Hubs in educational facilities and community settings to provide educational, mental health, employment, transitional and wellbeing support
  2. Co-designing youth-specific communication strategies, in partnership with young people, so government policies, processes and supports are accessible to youth of all ages, backgrounds, and needs
  3. Increasing income support and allowances with regular reviews to ensure they are sufficient, flexible and equitable to meet basic needs
  4. Increasing funding to youth mental health services for comprehensive, specialised and intensive supports
  5. Obligating funded organisations through service agreements to provide a welcoming, safe, and supportive environment, that caters for the diversity of all youth (Gender diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait
    Islanders, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and young people with a disability)
  6. Committing all members of Parliament to actively engage with youth in their electorates as part of serving their constituents
  7. Committing to, and independently assessing, actions to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees by 2030.

These recommendations were driven by what young people saw is essential to maintain their health, access safer support, develop connections with their community, build trust in government, maintain the environment, assist them to gain sustainable employment and help them to have a future as productive, independent members of society.