Call for Govt Action On Youth Issues
13 August 2015 at 11:29 am
National youth advocacy groups across Australia have penned a hard-hitting letter to the Federal Government calling for urgent action on youth issues including unemployment, homelessness,mental health, and domestic and family violence.
The Not for Profit groups say young Australians had little to celebrate during Wednesday’s International Youth Day due to Federal Government funding cuts to vital services and the removal of avenues allowing young people to have their voices heard in Canberra.
Eight youth advocacy groups have signed a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne.
“Countries around the world are celebrating young people’s role in civic decision-making. But young Australians currently have little to cheer. Because your government has removed all official ways to hear, work with or recognise young Australians,” the letter said.
It said the Abbott Government has:
-No Minister for Youth or dedicated youth portfolio
-Stopped funding the national youth peak body, the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition
-Ended the Australian Youth Forum
-Cancelled the National Youth Awards;
-Ended Commonwealth National Youth Week activities and will stop all National Youth Week funding in two years’ time.
“Moreover, the Abbott Government continues to pursue punitive plans to deny young people under 25 income support for four weeks. These unfairly harsh measures are likely to push more young people into hardship or homelessness.”
Managing Director of NSW’s peak youth advocacy body Youth Action, Katie Acherson said the 4.3 million Australians between the ages of 12 and 25 are facing disadvantage as a generation.
“With inequality worsening in Australia, this current generation of youth are likely to be the first to experience a lower standard of living than their parents,” Acherson said.
“Peak youth bodies from across Australia have joined Youth Action in urging members of the Abbott Government to make a fresh start on youth issues by committing to sit down and speak directly with a group of young people from around Australia.”
Acheson said that ahead of the last Federal Election the Coalition had promised to prioritise youth issues, but since taking office it had removed avenues for hearing from young people.
“Since coming to office the Abbott Government has removed official channels that allowed politicians to hear directly from young people, and work with them to address the substantial challenges they face,” she said.
“Unemployment, homelessness, mental health, domestic and family violence are just some of the significant problems young Australians deal with every day but, with the removal of forums for young people to be heard, they have been excluded from efforts to deal with them.”
According to Acheson, young people from NSW would be travelling to Canberra, joining others from across Australian in an effort to take their message directly to the Federal Government.
“Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training Scott Ryan have all been invited to meet with the youth representatives,” she said.
“Key members of the Government need to make a fresh start on youth affairs by sitting down to hear from representatives from diverse communities across the country.
“These young people have the ideas, passion and energy to deliver genuine solutions to challenges such as housing affordability and homelessness, unemployment, domestic and family violence, lack of access to apprenticeships and skills training, and alcohol and drug issues.
“But that can’t happen if the Abbott Government refuses to engage with them.”
Acherson criticised the Government’s approach to dealing with the high youth unemployment rate.
“There simply aren’t enough quality jobs available for everyone who wants one, and the proposed response to youth unemployment has been punitive penalties rather than greater support,” Acherson said.
“Involving young people in tackling the social problems they face not only shows them that they are valued by society, it actually gets better results while increasing social cohesion and economic prosperity.
“Young people want to help tackle these big challenges, but they can’t do that unless our political leaders are willing to listen to them and work together.”
Members of the Federal Government have been invited to meet with young people representing peak youth organisations on Wednesday 14 October 2015 at the Youth Coalition of the ACT office in Canberra.
The youth advocacy organisations have launched an online petition via GetUp! to encourage the Federal politicians to come to the table to talk.