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Young Aussies more concerned by discrimination than COVID-19

18 November 2020 at 4:54 pm
Luke Michael
More than a quarter of young people say they have been unfairly treated in the past year    

Luke Michael | 18 November 2020 at 4:54 pm


Young Aussies more concerned by discrimination than COVID-19
18 November 2020 at 4:54 pm

More than a quarter of young people say they have been unfairly treated in the past year    

Equity and discrimination is now the number one concern for young Australians, according to new research from Mission Australia.

The charity’s latest youth survey of more than 25,000 Australians aged 15 to 19 found this was the top national problem for young people, with 40.2 per cent of respondents identifying it as an important issue in Australia today.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 was the second biggest concern (38.8 per cent) for young Australians, while mental health came in third (30.6 per cent). 

This is the first time equity and discrimination has topped the list, with this issue ranking third in Mission Australia’s 2019 youth survey (24.8 per cent).

Mission Australia’s CEO James Toomey said it was clear that young people urgently wanted this problem addressed.

“This year, we’re hearing loud and clear that our young people see discrimination as a major issue in Australia, and are very concerned about unfair treatment, with gender inequality being at the forefront of their concerns,” Toomey said. 

“Dismissing young people’s concerns as gender politics is to miss the point, the message loud and clear is that young females and young males are concerned about gender inequality in Australia.”   

More than one quarter (27 per cent) of young Australians reported being unfairly treated over the past year, most commonly due to their gender (41 per cent).

Race/cultural background (30.4 per cent) and mental health (26 per cent) were also identified as catalysts for discrimination.

Toomey said young people’s own experience of discrimination, alongside escalating media coverage of grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter, were likely making them think more about the state of racial relations in Australia and worldwide.

He said racism has no place in Australia.

“Everyone – from our national leadership, to community members – should enact solutions and efforts to end discrimination and racism,” he said.

“To fortify inclusion across our country, we need a new National Anti-Racism Strategy which includes a commitment to partnering with young people to harness their voices and create initiatives to eradicate racism and discrimination.” 

The survey results highlighted that COVID-19 has affected young people in numerous areas. 

Some of the COVID-related impacts identified by young Australians included education, isolation and mental health.

Amid the ongoing crisis, four in 10 young people reported feeling stressed all of the time or most of the time. 

Toomey said COVID-19 has further exposed the major gaps in Australia’s mental health support system.

He said additional funding and strategies were needed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians.

“This should include more age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services for young people,” he said.

“These should be developed in consultation with young people. They are, after all, the experts when it comes to creating and advising on solutions that will address the issues affecting them.”

The full report can be seen here.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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