Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), Victoria’s peak body for young people and the youth sector, calls on the media to direct dedicated resources to increase the representation of young people’s voices and perspectives.
A report by Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology into the Inclusion and Representation of Young People in the Australian News Media shows that the expertise and experiences of young people are not being represented in Australian media, with only 1 per cent of all stories directly quoting young people.
“Young people are the most affected by many fundamental challenges facing Australia right now. We have a crisis in housing affordability, youth unemployment and underemployment, and mental health, as well as critical and ongoing concerns about climate change,” says Katherine Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of YACVic.
“It is unacceptable that young people are not being heard on issues which affect them every day and put their futures at risk.
“Young people are well-informed on many issues, and experts in their own lives. It’s time the media acknowledged that and directed dedicated resources to increase the meaningful representation of young people in public debate.”
The report also found that young people are ten times more likely to be seen in the news but not heard. Yet the most common stories which include young people are ones were about accidents and social welfare.
24-year-old Media and Communications Manager at YACVic, Thomas Feng, says that speaking about young people primarily in negative terms is condescending, unrepresentative and potentially harmful.
“When society and the media continue to tell us that we’re a nuisance or a burden, it is disempowering, especially because most young people are working hard and juggling multiple priorities across work, life and study to make ends meet,” he said.
“Young people are the future, and the media should be celebrating our experiences and successes as we continue to develop and listening to our views on issues that affect us.
“Authentic representation of young people would be a real opportunity for media outlets to rebuild trust and relevance with younger audiences.”
Young people all over the world are taking it upon themselves to make change now. The leadership and widespread activism of young people across Australia has drawn significant attention to issues such as climate change, mental health and marriage equality.
“When young people are listened to and heard, they are empowered to take control of their own lives and support their community,” says Ms Ellis.
“Young people are a vital part of any great society, and everyone benefits when their needs, perspectives and contributions are taken seriously.”
Media contact: Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager, 0431285275
Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is available for further comment.