Financial Security Major Concern - Youth Survey
5 December 2012 at 9:20 am
The economy and the rising cost of living are among the top issues concerning young Australians, according to a new Not for Profit youth survey.
Mission Australia’s national youth survey, said to be the biggest annual poll of young people’s concerns, found that young Australians overwhelmingly believe the biggest issue facing the nation is the economy with many feeling they need to find work to help pay for household bills.
Mission Australia says that the survey asked more than 15,000 young people between the ages of 15-19 to nominate the most important issues facing Australia.
The economy and financial matters were ranked most frequently in the top three by 31% of respondents, followed by population issues at 28% and alcohol and drugs at 22%.
Mission Australia says the environment, which was considered to be a leading issue for young people in the previous two years (37% in 2011 and 38% in 2010) – fell by more than half, with only 17.5% of participants considering it a major challenge facing the country.
The survey found that the leading issues of personal concern to young people are coping with stress, school or study problems and body image, with 43% of young women significantly concerned about the latter.
Mission Australia national research manager, Dr Bronwen Dalton, said that young people’s heightened anxiety around financial matters was a serious concern.
“There’s no question that young people are increasingly anxious about the economy and its impact on them and their families,” Dalton said.
“In last year’s survey, concern around the economy wasn’t even in the top three (21 per cent). This year it’s easily the most pressing national issue on the minds of young people.
“Accompanying that increase in concern has been a number of comments – some by children as young as 15 – about the need to get a job and contribute financially to keep their family afloat.”
Other survey highlights include:
More than ¾ of survey participants use the internet as their primary source of information.
Young women were just as likely to go to magazines as parents as sources of information (60%), and were far more likely to use them as a source of advice (30.5%) than young men (16%).
19% of young people had a less positive experience of family relationships.
One in 10 young people did not feel safe in their neighbourhood.
Dalton said the survey showed that stress, school work and body image all continue to be the greatest personal concerns for young people.
“In terms of the very high concern around body image among young women, we continue to make the point that well-meaning efforts to combat the problem by governments and others have failed to make an impact and need to be reconsidered,” Dalton said.
“For the first time, in this year’s survey the gap in concern between young females and males around body image really opened up (43% to 19%).”
Despite the survey showing that young people have a diverse range of serious concerns it also detected a significant level of optimism in the future.
The survey found that more than two-thirds of participants were positive about the future while only around 7% were negative. The remaining 23% were neither.
“Young Australians are incredibly grounded,” Dalton said.
“When asked what they value, financial security lags way behind family and friends – that’s very encouraging.”
A full copy of the survey results can be obtained by contacting Mission Australia.