Concerns of Young Australians - National Survey
4 December 2006 at 1:24 pm
A national survey of 14,700 young people, aged 11-24 has found family conflict, alcohol and other drugs and body image are their three main issues of concern, according to the survey’s authors, Mission Australia.
When asked to rank 12 issues in level of importance, family conflict was ranked most frequently in the top three by 28.6% of respondents. Alcohol and other drugs was a top concern for 28.2% of respondents, while body image – included as a category in the survey for the first time – came in third at 28.1%. Both females and males were similarly concerned about body image.
According to Mission Australia’s spokesperson, Anne Hampshire, changes in the 2006 survey reveal young people are confronting a broader and more complex range of issues.
Hampshire says body image is a new inclusion – requested by the young people themselves – as it had regularly been cited as an issue in the other concerns category in previous surveys.
In addition, she says suicide and self harm were listed separately as issues for the first time, whereas in previous surveys they had been listed together.
The effect of separating suicide (28%) and self harm (21.5%) in 2006 highlights more clearly the levels of concern about each issue.
This is Mission Australia’s fifth National Youth Survey – and the largest so far. It was conducted through schools and colleges around the country – and with the assistance of community organisations, government agencies, corporate partners – and was available on-line.
The survey asked a range of questions, including ‘What do young people value?’, ‘Where do you turn for advice/support?’ and ‘What people/organisations do you most admire?’.
Of around 800 respondents identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, 150 respondents were homeless.
Key results of the 2006 survey include:
• 72.3% of respondents ranked family/relationships as one of the top three things they most valued. This was followed by friendships at 66.8% and being independent at 35.2%.
• More females ranked friendships of importance (71.8%) than males (58.5%).While males ranked financial security (20.9%) higher than females (13.5%).
• Just over 30% of males, compared with around 14% of females, valued getting a job highly.
• Much higher proportion of males than females are significantly concerned about alcohol and other drugs – 34.2% compared to 24.7%.
• Physical/sexual abuse was a major concern for 30.8% of females compared to 23% of males.
• Two in five 20-24 year olds are significantly concerned about depression, while two out of five identified discrimination as a major issue.
• In terms of who young people turn to when they need advice and support, the three most popular mentions were for friend/s (86.4%), parent/s (74.2%) and relative/family friend (64%). The Internet ranked fourth at 16.8%.
• 26% of 20-24 year olds, and 20.9% of males, use the Internet for advice and support compared to 11-14 years (13.1%), 15-19 years (18.9%) and females (14.4%).
• 21.4% of total respondents (more than 3,000 young people) were involved in volunteering activities. Volunteering increases significantly among 20-24 year olds (36.6%), however this same age group has a relatively poor level of participation in sport (42.4%) compared to 11-14 year olds (77.4%).
• 33.1% of Indigenous respondents highly valued getting a job compared to 19.4% among non-Indigenous.
• Environmental issues were valued highly by only 8.9% of respondents.
Anne Hampshire said this year’s survey had uncovered some surprising results and reflected young Australians growing up in an increasingly insecure world.
She says some of the results, such as young Indigenous people placing a higher value on getting a job over their non-Indigenous peers, turn popular stereotypes on their head.
The same with young people valuing family and friends. She says the media portrays children and teenagers as being highly materialistic, but financial security lags behind family and friends.
She says what the survey also shows is that young people are incredibly diverse – there’s no ‘one size fits all’.
Another interesting factor the survey picked up, particularly among young adults, is their significant concern about
Mission Australia says it intends to do more research in this area to pinpoint just what areas of discrimination young people feel most strongly about – racial, sexual, social, workplace.