Young people in Australia are most concerned about the environment, discrimination, the economy and cost of living, and the effect mental ill-health has on the lives of many, according to the country’s largest youth survey. 

Mission Australia’s new Youth Survey Report 2023 provides invaluable insights into young people’s thoughts, experiences, concerns and solutions.

Responses from more than 19,500 young people aged 15 to 19 found the environment (44%), equity and discrimination (31%), the economy and financial matters (31%) and mental health (30%) topped the issues they considered most important in Australia.

Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister said the research showed young people were engaged with major environmental, political and societal issues facing the country.

“Responses were given amidst Australia’s severe weather disasters as well as public discussion and advocacy on climate change, mental health, the Voice Referendum and racism, the rising cost of living and the housing and homelessness crisis,” she said.

There were greater levels of concern among young people about issues relating to housing and homelessness this year (19%, up from 12% in 2022).

Homelessness is a traumatic experience which can have ongoing impacts on a person’s life, their wellbeing and their future," Ms Callister said.

“As such, we strongly urge all levels of government to take immediate action to end homelessness.

“This includes committing to homelessness prevention measures and investment in youth-specific services like Youth Foyers.” 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people continue to rate their wellbeing lower than their non-Indigenous peers across a range of measures, and a greater proportion reported they were subject to unfair treatment or discrimination.

“This disparity and its persistence reminds us yet again of the urgent action that’s needed to make our country a place where all young people can thrive,” Ms Callister said.

“Mission Australia is committed to working as an ally alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and communities to serve the needs of First Nations young people, to provide a platform for their voices and to drive real social change - I encourage other organisations to do the same.”

In addition to their societal awareness, young people demonstrated great insight into the challenges they have personally faced this year as well as possible solutions to those challenges. The most common responses were themed around school (49%), mental health (24%) and relationships (21%).

Ms Callister said they had made their major concerns and solutions crystal clear.

“Through our Youth Survey, young people have shown they care about issues facing Australia and themselves, are strong and resilient, diverse and very capable,” she said.

“They want better access to mental healthcare services, accurate diagnosis and treatment, support from their family and friends and professional help.

“Young people also voiced they’d like greater understanding from teachers and parents about stress levels.”

The 22nd annual Youth Survey was conducted between April and August, and results are shared with schools, governments and other key policy makers.

“I urge everyone reading this report to take these young voices and perspectives seriously, create space for all young people, including First Nations young people, to be genuinely included in decision-making processes, and act upon their ideas and recommendations,” Ms Callister added.

Read the report

Youth Survey Report 2023

Youth Survey Report 2023 Summary Booklet

Youth Survey 2023 Sub-reports

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