After a shock election result, do young people still have a say on Australia’s future?
24 May 2019 at 3:39 pm
Young people are more important than ever to Australia’s political landscape despite many feeling like their voices are not being heard, a youth sector leader believes.
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) caretaker CEO Paul Turner told Pro Bono News it was a myth that young people were politically apathetic, with many engaged in the future of the country.
Last weekend’s federal election result had many people questioning whether the interests of baby boomers won out over the interests of young people, and Turner agreed many young people were disillusioned by the result.
But he said young Australians still had the power to shake-up the political process.
“Young people through social media and the ability to interact with one another have got more power than they’ve ever had. That’s just power outside the standard political processes,” Turner said.
He said the youth sector would continue to lobby the federal government for a better policy for young Australians, noting that unlike Labor, the Coalition had no plans to appoint a minister for young people or fund a national youth peak body.
Turner also said the Coalition needed to rethink its approach to climate change – the number one policy concern for young Australians.
“I think that there were signs even in the victory speech on Saturday night that the senior Liberal leadership realised that moving forward they’re going to have to do more to engage young people,” he said.
“The negative comments made by senior [Coalition] politicians about climate change action in recent times were not well considered and I think the government needs to [strengthen] its position on this.
“They need to be very conscious of all of the demographic groups that will be voting in the next election and that includes 16 and 17 year olds concerned about the future of our climate.”
There has been no federal minister for young people since 2013, while the Australian Youth Affairs Council – which was formed in 2002 – was defunded in the 2014 federal budget under prime minister Tony Abbott.
Research has shown trust between young Australians and the political system has got worse, with 85 per cent of young people aged 18 to 29 not believing politicians are acting in their best interests, compared to 80 per cent in 2016.
Turner said YACVic believes the election result will only galvanise the youth sector to speak up about the issues which matter to young Australians.
“Their ideas are vital to Australia’s future and must be on the national agenda so Australia can be a forward looking country,” he said.
UPDATE: Since the time of publication, the Morrison government has appointed Senator Richard Colbeck as the Minister for Youth.