Mission Australia’s new Youth Survey Report 2022 has revealed financial concerns and housing instability affected many young people and their families. The environment (51.0%), equity and discrimination (35.9%) and mental health (33.9%) topped the issues young people aged 15 to 19 want Australia to address in 2022.

This year, 18,800 young people were surveyed for the 21st annual Youth Survey between April and August 2022.

Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said the report showed that young people faced a range of challenges and concerns in 2022.

“Transitioning to adulthood comes with challenges and these are even more pronounced for more vulnerable young people like those who are homeless or financially stressed,” she said.

As we consider this year’s findings, we must bear in mind the impacts that the pandemic, recent natural disasters and financial pressures have on young people’s lives and perspectives. Australia must do all we can, so the negative impacts of the past few years don’t cause ongoing problems for this generation.

Within the last year, financial concerns and housing instability affected many young people, with one in 10 (10.4%) worried about having a safe place to stay and almost one in 10 (8.4%) spending time away from home because they felt they couldn’t return. One in 20 (5.9%) young people or their families were unable to afford bills or car expenses and a similar proportion (6.4%) sought financial help from family, friends or charity.

“Young people at risk of homelessness must be identified early and have access to evidence-based housing and support models such as Youth Foyers. If Australia builds enough new social and affordable homes and adequately increases income supports like JobSeeker and Youth Allowance, this would go a long way to help families and their children to afford life’s essentials and a safe and secure home,” said Ms Callister.

Not only was the environment one of the most important issues in Australia according to half (51.0%) of young respondents – soaring from 38.0% in 2021 and 29.8% in 2020, one-quarter (25.5%) were also personally extremely or very concerned about climate change.

Ms Callister said: “The looming threat of climate change and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters is clearly hurting Australia’s young people. They want more action.”

Discrimination and mental health were concerns at both a national and personal level for many young people. More than one-third of young people said equity and discrimination (35.9%) was an important national issue, and just over one-quarter (27.1%) of those surveyed were unfairly treated in the past year, mostly due to their gender, race/cultural background or mental health.

“Clearly young people are enduring and seeing gender, racial and mental health related discrimination around them, and this must be addressed,” said Ms Callister.

One-third (33.9%) of young people felt mental health is an important national issue. Almost three in 10 (28.8%) young people indicated high psychological distress and almost one-quarter (23.5%) felt lonely all or most of the time. More than half (53.4%) have needed support with their mental health at some point in their life. While half (49.9%) were positive about their futures, the proportion of young people with this positive outlook has decreased gradually since 2020. Gender diverse young people and young females indicated lower wellbeing than young males.

“Australia must do more to increase young people’s access to mental health services and improve mental health screening and supports provided through schools and workplaces,” urged Ms Callister.

For the first time the Youth Survey report reported on young people’s solutions to the issues they face. Young people voiced the importance of asking friends, family and health professionals for support, the need for learning strategies to reduce stress and more emphasis on mental health and wellbeing at school.

Encouragingly, most (85.8%) were studying fulltime, 62.6% were satisfied with their studies and most (52.4%) felt in control of their lives. Young people also participate in a range of activities, most commonly sports (as a participant), sports (as a spectator) and volunteer work.

“Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2022 shows there is plenty to celebrate in relation to young people’s experiences and that many are faring well while tackling 2022’s challenges. But we know that more must be done to ensure young people are properly supported as they transition to adulthood,” said Ms Callister.

Young people have the answers. We must listen, ensure young people are included in decision-making processes, and act now so they can access the opportunities and supports they need to thrive.

The results of the Youth Survey are shared with governments, non-government organisations, schools and the media to inform the debate around the circumstances of young people in Australia and to support the development of policies, services and programs that have the needs of young people at their core.

Read the report

Youth Survey Report 2022

Youth Survey Report 2022 Summary Booklet

Youth Survey 2022 Sub-reports

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