With almost 80,000 more young people out of work during COVID-19, Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) and the Young Workers Centre are calling for a crucial investment in a Youth Employment Plan in the upcoming state budget.

“COVID-19 has seen disproportionate jobs losses for young people, with over 100,000 leaving the workforce since January. There needs to be a comprehensive and cohesive plan to support young people to get a foot securely on the job ladder.” says Katherine Ellis, CEO of YACVic.

“As 20,000 new graduates prepare to enter the job market, the upcoming state budget is a critical opportunity to tackle youth unemployment in Victoria as part of the COVID-19 recovery and for the long-term.

“History shows that youth employment will be the last to recover from this economic crisis. It had not even recovered from the 2008 global financial crisis before the pandemic, so Victoria needs to act now or youth unemployment will remain high for at least another decade.”

Felicity Sowerbutts, director of Young Workers Centre, says the fallout of COVID-19 means that young people could be dangerously exploited by poor conditions in the workforce.

"For years, we've seen employers choosing to offer only low-paid, casualised work to young workers. This is a model of employment that denies young workers sick leave and income security. In a pandemic, it is deadly."

"The upcoming state budget is an opportunity to create a plan for good, secure jobs where young workers are treated fairly at work, paid at least the legal minimum wage and receive entitlements like sick leave. Employers cannot be allowed to continue exploiting a model of employment that puts the whole community at risk.” 

Case study: Melis

Melis is a 21 year old Global Studies and Law student, who has been significantly impacted across her life by COVID-19. Prior to COVID-19, Melis worked multiple casual jobs to get by, with additional support from Youth Allowance. She also volunteered at Queerspace and the Centre for Multicultural Youth and was an intern with the International Women’s Development Agency; all of which have now been discontinued.

“Since the pandemic, my work has dried up except for a couple of students I tutor online, and right now I am solely reliant on Youth Allowance. Most young people occupy casual, precarious roles and I know that for my friends and I this has been a time wrought with uncertainty.”

COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People

The COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People, developed as a collective effort by the youth sector, calls on 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 Recovery Plan has been endorsed by over 50 major organisations which play a key role in supporting and developing young people, including the Young Workers Centre, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, VicHealth and Orygen.

Find out more about the COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People and addressing youth mental health here: yacvic.org.au/recovery


Media Contacts:

Young people who have lost work during COVID-19 are available for interviews. Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO and Felicity Sowerbutts, YWC Director are also available for interviews.

For media enquiries you can contact Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager on 0431 285 275.

For YWC media enquiries you can contact Edwina Byrne, VTHC Media and Communications Lead at 0409 017 140, ebyrne@vthc.org.au

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.

About Young Workers Centre

The Young Workers Centre (YWC) is a one-stop shop for young workers who want to learn about their rights at work or who need assistance in resolving workplace issues. YWC’s team of lawyers, organisers, educators and researchers seek to empower young people working in Victoria with the knowledge and skills needed to end workplace exploitation and insecurity.