Federal budget ignores young people and our future
30 March 2022 at 1:02 pm
Overall, the budget demonstrates the clear lack of consideration for young people, writes Ashley Oehler in their youth take on the budget.
The 2022 federal budget is important for young people and our generation as it shows how the government will not only invest in us, but in our future. Young people were slammed by COVID-19, but before the pandemic young people were already doing it tough, with issues such as youth unemployment, climate change, mental health and domestic violence.
This year’s budget has overall shown us that young people and their needs are not being addressed. There is a disconnect between young people and the government and without collaboration, there is little solution.
Youth unemployment continues to be more than double the overall unemployment rate. The Apprenticeships Commencement scheme will support tradies and apprentices with a $5,000 incentive for apprentices and a $15,000 wage subsidy for employers to boost retention in the workforce in areas of skills shortages. There are also 15,000 low or fee free courses in aged care. This support for young workers does not go unnoticed, however I can’t help but notice the large amount of young workers that are being left behind. These schemes ignore the 300,000+ young people who are underemployed and work in an increasingly casualised workforce. More support is needed for young people who are interested in jobs outside of aged care and trade.
The 2022 budget pledged $1.3 billion over six years to fund family violence support and decrease violence against women and children. The investment into early intervention and prevention stood out to me as the government is addressing the full cycle of domestic violence, not just at its crisis point. This includes $104.4 million to expand prevention in diverse communities such as LGBTIQA+ communities, disability communities and migrant and refugee communities. There is also further investment in the Stop it at the Start campaign which seeks to shift attitudes about violence among young people. Preventing and stopping family violence is an important long-term investment in children and young people’s future.
The $547 million over the next five years on mental health includes new funding on early psychosis and a pilot for best practice treatment on eating disorders. It is good that the urgent need for mental health care and further prevention is recognised within this budget however, funnelling more money into already existing services may not be the way to do so. There needs to be more thought and change within our mental health services in order to cater to the diverse challenges young people face. By investing in already existing services that have their resources spread thinly already, the government has missed an opportunity to find stronger, long-term solutions. What we need is mental health practice that is co-designed, with and for young people. More options can lead to bigger solutions.
Yet again, there was no direct attention or action on climate change. Young people and our future continue to be left off the agenda. Watching climate issues rise and be pushed down the policy agenda speaks large volumes about how this government sees the future of young people. Their grand statements on zero-net emissions, without any meaningful policies or funding to back up how we’ll get there is a disservice to young people, and another example of how our governments are leaving long-term issues for young people to inherit.
This is also true of short-term temporary measures around cost-of-living like the $250 payment for young people. The government has stated that there will be a once-off payment to young people to alleviate the cost of living. However, this once off payment is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. The temporary solution shows little regard for addressing the high costs of living and does not address underlying issues.
Overall, the budget has demonstrated yet again the clear lack of consideration for young people. If there is to be support for young people and our future, there needs to be investment in our future, ourselves and our communities. We need to see real action in how we support young people into meaningful and secure work, real co-design with young people in the policies and issues that affect us, including mental health services, and a bold, firm approach to how we tackle climate change.
This article is part of a monthly series, Youth Matters, a collaboration between Youth Affairs Council Victoria and Pro Bono Australia to inject the voices of young people into the social change sector.