Young Aussies Fear Dreams Out of Reach
2 December 2014 at 11:10 am
Young Australians are struggling to cope with stress, with many concerned their dreams for the future may be out of reach – according to one of biggest annual polls of young people, the national Mission Australia Youth Survey.
The Not for Profit says the 2014 Youth Survey reveals a disturbing gap between what young people aspire to and what they actually believe they can achieve.
“The vast majority of young people surveyed ranked career success and financial independence as their top two aspirations, yet only around 60 per cent felt those goals were actually attainable,” the survey said.
“At the same time, the issue of greatest personal concern for young people in 2014 was coping with stress, with more than one in three respondents expressing high levels of concern, highlighting the immense pressure young Australians are facing in their final years of school.”
Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said the results of the 2014 Youth Survey should act as a wakeup call to Government and the community that urgent investment is required to ensure young Australians are better supported through the transition into adulthood so they have the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives and to underpin Australia’s future prosperity.
“Australia’s young people have been raised to dream big, but this year’s results highlight their serious concerns about whether those dreams are achievable,” Yeomans said.
“If Governments fail to invest in the right supports for young people as they grapple with these challenges it will leave Australia without the future workforce and strong communities we need to carry the nation forward.
“It is critical that we think more seriously about the future of the Australian labour and housing markets and invest today for the lives and communities we want for our children.”
The 2014 Youth Survey also found the economy and financial matters continue to weigh heavily on the minds of both young males and females, reflecting the financial hardship being felt in many households across the nation and young people’s concerns about what it means for their future.
“Perhaps unsurprisingly given these external pressures, the survey found young people place more importance on their career and financial aspirations than on aspirations for community connections and having a family – demonstrating the need for greater education about the importance of social wellbeing and a sense of community,” Yeomans said.
Other survey highlights include:
· Around 80 per cent of young people ranked education and hard work as the top two factors they believe will influence their career opportunities in the future
· Almost 50 per cent of young people believe where they live will affect the career opportunities available
· More than 1 in 3 young people aged 15-19 are currently looking for work (including part-time/casual)
· More than 70 per cent of young people ranked owning their own home as a key aspiration, and most felt this was also achievable despite falling rates of home ownership in Australia.
· Only 54 per cent of males plan to go to university, compared with more than 70 per cent of females
· 1 in 5 young people indicated strong concerns about family conflict and depression, while concern about mental health, alcohol and drugs has continued to rise for the past two years.
Mission Australia’s 13th national Youth Survey tested the views of almost 14,000 young people between the ages of 15-19. In addition to asking about their personal and national concerns it surveyed what young people value, who they turn to for help, what activities they engage in and how they feel about the future.
The 2014 survey included a particular focus on young people’s aspirations.
Yeomans said while the majority of young people are optimistic about the future and aspire to achieve the jobs, homes and families that they have seen in previous generations, their confidence in reaching these goals is lagging.
“There appears to be a pressure cooker environment, where young people are not only stressed about coping with school and study pressures and increasingly dealing with work pressures at a younger age, they are also facing the prospect of not meeting aspirations for their career, housing and financial security that previous generations may have been able to achieve,” Yeomans said.
“The divergence in aspirations and achievability suggests a need to both support young people in the pursuit of their aspirations, but also a need to build resilience and life skills to help them respond to an increasingly competitive and changing environment.
Yeomans said the pressure of preparing themselves for life after school in the current economic climate is having a huge impact on young Australians’ wellbeing.
“Coping with stress is the number one personal concern for young people, alongside school or study problems. Young women in particular are increasingly overwhelmed with more than half saying they are either extremely or very concerned about coping with stress – an increase on last year’s results,” Yeomans said.
“Couple this with the fact that concern among young people about mental health and alcohol and drugs has increased in the past two years, and it’s clear we need to do more to support Australia’s youth to navigate their way into adulthood, particularly for the most disadvantaged.
Mission Australia’s policy recommendations to address the findings of the 2014 Youth Survey include:
Greater investment in programs that equip families, schools and communities to support young people to develop aspirations, deal with stress, and stay connected to school or training. This includes through mentoring and career counsellors, and early intervention programs that also involve and connect to families.
Investing in effective youth programs that build links between education, training and employment. This is particularly critical for those young people at risk of falling out of formal education or who lack the supports necessary to reach their potential.
Increasing funding of youth mental health, drug and alcohol services, including early intervention programs.
Recognising the role of adequate and affordable housing for people’s health, wellbeing and capacity for work, through the development of a National Housing Plan that addresses the need for investment in social and affordable housing programs like the National Rental Affordability Scheme and the adequacy of Commonwealth Rental Assistance as well as the structural drivers pushing up costs in the housing market.