Australia: Youth raises voice to save environment

What personal difficulties do your kids face before they ever enter the classroom? What are the concerns they have for the country? New information from the Mission Australia Youth Survey indicates that the environment is now young people’s top issue, followed by fairness, prejudice, and mental health.

But during the past year, home instability and financial worries have also had an impact. 18.800 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 who participated in the 2022 survey said that 10.4% of them were concerned about finding a safe place to stay, and 8.4% had gone away from home for an extended period out of fear of being unable to return. 5.9% of young people or their families could not pay their rent or automobile costs, and 6.4% of them had turned to relatives, friends, or a charity for assistance.

The environment was ranked as one of Australia’s top priorities by just over half (51%) of those polled, up from 38% in 2021 and 29.8% in 2020. Climate change was a concern for 25.5% of the population.

More than one-third (35.9%) of respondents ranked equity and discrimination as crucial on a national level, and 27.1% reported experiencing discrimination in the previous year, most frequently based on gender, race/ethnicity, or mental health.

Young people continue to have serious concerns about their mental health; 33.9% believe it to be a crucial national issue, 28.8% report experiencing a lot of psychological anguish, and 23.5% say they feel lonely most of the time. 53.4 per cent of individuals polled admitted that they had needed assistance with their mental health at some point in their lives.

In their own words and without prompting, young people were asked to describe their most significant personal struggle from the previous year, how they overcame it, and what more could be done to support them.

The survey report (Leung et al., 2022) suggests that “the responses to these questions are a valuable source for understanding the issues and solutions that are front of mind for young people.”

In their own words, young people identified school, relationships, mental health, and COVID-19 as their top personal challenges from the previous year. Four out of ten students (41.5%) reported facing difficulties at school, including pressure to perform academically, a heavy workload, issues with teachers, or learning difficulties.

Nearly three-quarters (73.2%) of young people feel the pandemic has badly impacted their schooling, up from 62.3% in 2021. “These issues exist in the context of years of COVID-19 upheaval.”

One in five young people struggled to balance their obligations outside of school (20.2%) and felt pressured to get good results (20.7%).

According to the survey report, a tiny percentage of those polled (2.7%) reported having troubled relationships with school personnel and desiring stronger help from their institution.

Almost all young people (85.8%) were enrolled in full-time studies, and 62.6% reported being pleased or extremely satisfied with their education. However, 41.8% of respondents claimed they face obstacles to pursuing their academic or professional goals, with the top 3 being financial difficulty, academic difficulty, and mental health.

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