As disengagement grows in Australian politics, we see a disproportionate impact on Australia’s youth. Young people are overwhelmingly disregarded in current federal policy.
What do I aim to focus on for Youth?
- Youth and Climate
- Youth and Housing Affordability
- Youth and Education
- Youth and Mental Health
- Youth and Equality
Moreover, a distinct lack of climate action reveals heightened disregard towards the generation which will be most impacted by climate change.
Young people’s autonomy is further hindered by the bureaucratic quagmire that is Centrelink, encouraging familial financial dependency. This is particularly problematic for those youth at risk of emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, the state of the housing market, with skyrocketing rents and house prices, renders the prospect of leaving the family house inconceivable to many.
This is particularly pertinent in Goldstein where young residents starting families worry that they will not be able to find secure housing close to their parents, many of whom have lived in the community for generations and are concerned that that they will not be able easily to spend time with their children and grandchildren.
Young people are too often disregarded and unaccounted for in government policy. As a result, they feel forced to find their own channels of activism and protest that largely exist outside of the concerns of Canberra.
It is time that the youth of Australia are listened to and considered in policy; and the significant burden of climate change that they must take on, is acknowledged.
Youth and Climate
Climate change and its extensive, severe and increasingly immediate impacts on this country present a current, clear and present danger; however, the true burden will fall to our nation’s youth.
The courts may have decided that the Government does not have a legal duty of care to future generations to protect our environment and ensure a liveable climate; however, there is a clear moral and economic duty of care to our youth. There is an urgent imperative to implement significant action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and build a green and prosperous future.
If elected to Parliament, I will fight for the following:
- Hold the Government to account regarding our Paris Climate Agreement commitments
- Fight for a 60% emissions reduction by 2030
- Cease subsidising fossil fuels. No new coal or gas developments. Transition to the closure of coal fired power plants and deliver a structured and just transition to communities
- Continue and strengthen solar incentives and build a skilled renewable energy workforce and commit to 80% renewable energy by 2030
- Fix the grid to support more solar and renewable energy to electrify the nation and to move away from gas
- Make batteries affordable
- Accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, including a national charger network, electrifying government fleets and reforming Fringe Benefits and Luxury car tax
- Implement programmes supporting entrepreneurs who are creating jobs around electric vehicles, batteries and charging
- Support community energy projects
- Actively drive carbon sequestration via tree planting, mangrove and kelp replacement and support agriculture to reduce methane emissions via innovative farming practices
Youth and Housing Affordability
Two thirds of young Australians believe that the federal government should assist in the provision of housing. This is a central issue for this generation.
Buying a house has become an almost mythical prospect for many of Australia’s younger people. The escalation in house prices means young people cannot expect the opportunities available to their parents to buy a first home, even with parental support, making more of them dependent on their families for longer; restricting their job opportunities, their independence and their ability to find a secure environment in which to start a family.
I will commit to equipping young people with the autonomy and support to increase the prospect of housing affordability in Goldstein by:
- Decreasing the age of independence for Centrelink to 18, allowing younger individuals to take on autonomy and financial independence.
- Encouraging the state government to reform planning and zoning laws in order facilitate an increase in housing supply, positively impacting affordability.
- Ensuring rent assistance keeps pace with the increase in rent prices. (The maximum Rent Assistance payment is indexed in line with CPI, but rents have been growing faster than the CPI for a long time. It must be readjusted in order to keep pace with rents. )
- Advocating for changes to stamp duty to remove barriers for older people downsizing
- Innovation in housing development projects including rent to buy schemes
- An independent inquiry into a pilot national shared equity scheme modelled on schemes operating in SA and WA – to level the playing field for first home buyers to enter the market in partnership with the government.
Youth and Education
Education is the engine that drives Australia’s future. Its continued defunding and politicisation highlights the inability of the Liberal-National Government to consider Australia’s youth in its policy formulation.
If elected, I will fight for the following:
- Appropriate and equitable funding and administration of all levels of education
- An end to the stratification of university degree costs that makes certain fields vastly more expensive and inaccessible to students.
- Cease funding cuts to TAFE and other vocational education providers. There must be an acknowledgement of the importance of a diverse and skilled workforce and an economy in which young people have a multitude of opportunities for high quality jobs.
- The timely implementation of Gonski 2.0 and its 23 key recommendations.
- Primary and secondary education funding placing equity and needs at the heart of decision making’
- Reviewing apprenticeships with consideration given to visa changes to allow the addition of young migrant workers to apprenticeship programs to alleviate workforce shortages
Youth and Mental Health
Exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19 and lockdown related issues, young people’s mental health has become a central issue.
More than 75% of mental health issues have their onset before the age of 25 and suicide remains the leading cause of death for young people in this country.
These concerning statistics highlight the need for a youth-focused mental health policy that accounts for the challenges facing young Australians and equips them with the necessary support to lead happy and productive lives.
Considering 45% of Australians are faced with mental health problems at some point in their lives, the importance of taking more action on this issue cannot be overstated. ‘Fixing’ the mental health system is about addressing structural issues, rather than necessarily throwing huge amounts of new money at a dysfunctional system.
That is why I will be advocating for:
- The addition of an evidence-based and youth directed mental health education program to the national curriculum
- Engaging young people in the development of mental health services that suit their needs and experiences, acknowledging their role in mental health advocacy.
- Supporting community-based and geographically focused mental services that work directly with young people and offer more accessible and personalised mental health support for this group.
- Creating transparency via the use of digital waiting lists so demand-supply issues are clear and those needing support know where they stand
- Developing co-ordination between federal, state and local authorities to create a regionally managed system that allows for targeted, specialist support (detailed in the 2019 Productivity Commission report into mental health services) and target workforce expertise gaps and staff shortages
- Providing specific pandemic related mental health support to young people beyond simply subsidising mental health services, such as a youth support helpline and easily accessible information about available support on government websites.
Youth and Equality
The Liberal-National Government has politicised many aspects of identity and has failed to drive equality in a number of spheres.
Too often, young people have born the brunt of these culture wars, a key example of which was the Religious Discrimination Bill debate.
If elected, I will fight for the following:
- Greater consideration of youth perspectives on equality issues.
- I would fiercely protect not only a right for free self-expression but the right to thrive in Australia irrespective of factors such as race, gender, sexuality, or ability.
- The implementation of a Federally legislated ban on conversion therapy.
- Robust legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQI+ children (and children of LGBTQI+ parents) at religious schools and users of health-care providers.
- The addition of LGBTQI+ inclusive sex education into the national curriculum.
- Not only does this ensure all youth feel represented in this important aspect of schooling but it captures the universal need for comprehensive sex and consent education that is relevant to the safety of all youth.
- The harmonisation of state-based sexual assault and child abuse laws