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Australia: Young Australians worried about alcohol, drugs, getting a job, body image: Mission Australia survey

Australia: Young Australians worried about alcohol, drugs, getting a job, body image: Mission Australia survey



By Lindy Kerin

November 29, 2015

Young people have reported stress, school, study and body image as the biggest issues in their personal life, in the biggest survey of its kind in Australia.


The survey, carried out by Mission Australia every year, also asked young people aged between 15 and 19 what they considered to be the biggest issues of national concern.

It found 27 per cent of respondents were mostly concerned about alcohol and drugs, followed by equity and discrimination and the economy and financial matters.

“Alongside general concerns surrounding alcohol and drugs use in peers, this concern may reflect the permeation of the drug ice through many communities in Australia,” CEO of Mission Australia Catherine Yeomans said.

With double digit youth unemployment, Ms Yeomans said it was not surprising many young people thought it would be difficult to achieve their goals.

“More than half of the young people in Australia who responded to the survey think that there are actually barriers to achieving what they want, in terms of their future, education and employment goals, so that really is a standout and some of the areas the young people have identified as being barriers, are academic ability, financial difficulty and a lack of jobs,” she said.

The survey of nearly 19,000 young Australians showed females are generally less confident than their male counterparts.

“Twice as many young women think that their academic ability is likely to be a barrier to future success, and twice as many young women also believe financial difficulty and lack of jobs will be a barrier for them compared to young men,” Ms Yeomans said.

“I think that raises questions around why young women are not feeling as confident as young men, because objective data tells us that women do just as well academically — they’re doing very well in studies, their educational attainment and in their opportunities to secure tertiary places as well.

“So it is speaking to a confidence level.

“It highlights the increased need to tackle wider gender equality. Despite some progress, women are still woefully underrepresented in leadership roles across all sectors.

“Without strong female role models I fear young women will continue to lack the confidence to aim high and attain their goals.”

Life a balancing act for teenagers

Seventeen-year-old Claire Hiley has just started Year 12 at a selective school in Sydney’s south.

Like many others students her age, she said life already felt like a balancing act.

“I guess just getting good results, especially at a selective school it’s really competitive, and there’s a lot of pressure on you to do well, and it’s hard just balancing family life and a job and everything else as well,” she said.

It is a similar story for 15-year-old Nicole Pingon — who is at the same school.

“I guess school work and pressure from school is starting to build up going into Year 11. I think just being at a selective school there’s a lot of pressure to do well,” she said.

As a dancer, Claire Hiley said body image was a constant concern.

“Especially in a dance world, you’re expected to be that skinny dancer and eat well all the time,” she said.

“That’s just the pressure on you. You just have to reassure yourself that not everyone has that body type and just deal with what you have really.”

The survey released did have some good news — many young Australians are feeling positive about the future.

“Six in 10 of the respondents actually say that they are feeling very positive, or positive about the future, and again this reflects an age group they’re seeing their future ahead of them,” Ms Yeomans said.

“They do have a lot of hopes and aspirations. It’s incumbent on us to help them overcome some of the barriers that they perceive so that they can truly achieve their goals.”