Young people cut off from decision-making during pandemic

Monday, 29 June 2020

A report released by the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People has shone a light on how COVID-19 will redefine the outlook and opportunities of young people.

We know young people are facing a devastating jobs crisis, with youth unemployment at 16.1 per cent and expected to grow. This new reality has left young people uncertain and concerned about their own futures, with respondents fearing they will no longer be able to access stable, safe and secure work, both now and for years to come.

This concern goes hand in hand with the importance of skills, training and education, with young people emphasising the importance of education and training in equipping them with the skills they need to adapt to a rapidly changing job market and new opportunities.

Young people also reported feelings of helplessness and hopelessness due to a range of factors, including declining aspirations because of a perceived loss of opportunities, and lost social and economic participation.

Of note is that some young people reported feeling ignored and “cut off” from information and decision-making regarding recovery from the pandemic, particularly as no official information or communication was being directed or tailored to them.

Long before the pandemic, we know many young people felt they were not listened to or represented by governments, and that they did not have a say in government policy and decision making. The Mission Australia Youth Survey 2019 found that more than half (52.4 per cent) of young people felt they have a say none of the time in public affairs.

It is integral now, in the midst of the biggest challenge this generation of young Australians have ever faced, that governments work with young people on how to best support them now and into the future.

So far during the pandemic, young people have been met largely with silence from their Minister for Youth and flippancy from the Prime Minister. It is just not good enough.

The Morrison Government must engage with and listen to our young Australians, and develop a plan to ensure young people are not left out and left behind.

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