Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), the peak body for young people and the youth sector in Victoria, is calling for collective investment in a COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People, to revive young people’s futures.
“COVID-19 is a generation-defining event which has dramatically altered young people’s lives and prospects. Young people need and deserve a dedicated Recovery Plan and investment in their futures,” says Katherine Ellis, CEO of YACVic.
“We can’t simply go back to how things were before COVID-19. Young people were already grappling with youth unemployment, increasing inequality and discrimination, failing institutions, and the existential threat of climate change. Now they are facing even more challenges.”
YACVic will release its Recovery Plan for Young People on 25 September, calling on the Victorian Government and others to invest in six priority areas: employment, mental health, housing, access and inclusion, youth participation and a strong youth sector to enable young Victorians to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People has been endorsed by the likes of Orygen, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, VicHealth, Mission Australia and almost 30 other major organisations who play a key role in supporting young people.
“It is critical that political leaders prioritise young people in policy setting and budget investments to restore hope and optimism in young people’s lives, and avoid a scarred generation,” says Ms Ellis. “The business and community sectors also have an important role to play.”
“In a crisis, youth unemployment is the first to rise, and the last to recover; when COVID-19 hit, youth unemployment had still not recovered from the GFC. The economic crisis and unemployment for young people will continue for at least a decade and that’s why secure, meaningful jobs for young people as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People is urgently needed.
“The pandemic’s immediate challenges and uncertainty about the future also have the potential to cause an epidemic of poor mental health for young people. Modelling suggests there will be a 12.4 per cent rise in suicide deaths among young people. We must invest now to boost the capacity of mental health services, improve digital services, and bolster employment and education supports, as well as supports for families.”
Secure and affordable housing for young people also remains a major concern.
“We commend the rent and eviction freezes, but next we need to ensure young people have a safe, secure and affordable place to live for the long-term. 44 per cent of young renters struggled to pay rent on time, and only 1 in 10 young people were given a rent reduction,” says Ms Ellis.
“Young people facing disadvantage struggle to access social housing due to long wait lists, and we urgently need a strategy to end youth homelessness in Victoria.”
COVID-19 has also made it incredibly difficult for young people to access essential services they need such as disability support workers, youth services and educational support.
“We are concerned about the growing number of young people who didn’t require services before COVID-19, but who will need support in ways they had never previously contemplated. A Recovery Plan for Young People must include long-term investment in a strong youth sector to support these young people through the extended impacts of COVID-19.”
Throughout this pandemic young people have been blamed and hectored for supposedly flouting rules, while at the same time there have been few efforts to understand their unique needs and concerns.
“Young people want to take action and have a say on their future, and a youth-focused COVID-19 recovery will meaningfully include them at the centre, and welcome and implement their solutions,” says Ms Ellis.
“We should be embracing young people’s perspectives and ideas, and investing in their talents, their needs and perspectives, and their vision for a future we all want.”
The COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People provides an opportunity to revive young people’s futures, and create a renewed sense of hope and possibility for young people.
To find out more, go to yacvic.org.au/recovery
Case studies are available for interview:
- 21 yr old uni student who lost 3 casual jobs/has accessed telehealth
- 15 yr old secondary student
- 21 yr old Aboriginal youth worker
Media Contact: Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is available for interviews. For media enquiries you can 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.