Young people were forced to sacrifice so much of their lives for the broader community during COVID-19. Young people were the first to lose their jobs, their education and other crucial rites of passage were disrupted or missed altogether. For many, goals and ambitions were dashed by this generation-defining pandemic.
Yet, beyond a few short-term announcements on youth employment and skills, young people have been left out of the 2021-22 Federal Budget and the ongoing recovery from COVID-19.
With youth unemployment still more than double the national unemployment rate at 11.8 per cent, positive initiatives include an increase to wage subsidies, an increase to JobTrainer to upskill young people, and extension of the Transition to Work program.
Also welcome is the $2.3 billion bolstering of mental health support including an extension of telehealth, roll-outs of digital services, and an increase in suicide prevention. However, this is well short of what is needed to improve youth mental health services, and is largely focused on crisis support rather than prevention.
Unfortunately, the 2021-22 Federal Budget also ignores some of the fundamental issues affecting young people, including housing affordability and climate change.
The additional 10,000 places for singles and couples to access the New Home Guarantee is exciting for many young people eager to enter the property market, but comes at a time when house prices are rising at all-time high. Housing supply will continue to be a major barrier, and there is no relief for young people renting or in need of social housing.
There are also no initiatives to address stagnant wages, which underpins young people’s ability to afford life’s basics.
The government’s focus on the gas industry, instead of investing in renewable energy and taking other meaningful action on climate change, is another wasted opportunity on an issue that affects future generations.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately impact and scar young people’s lives for years to come. This budget fails to recognise the important sacrifices of young Australians, and largely leaves young people out of the COVID-19 recovery and future prosperity.
Media Contact: Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is available for interviews. For media enquiries, please contact Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager on 0431 285 275.
About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.