As part of our annual Youth Survey, we spoke to 19,500 young people about their experiences, thoughts and concerns. Along with the challenges young people face, we found four issues that occupied the hearts and minds of 15–19 year old's in 2023.

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 today.

Four biggest issues on the minds of young people in 2023

1. Young people are concerned about the environment

Responses from young people surveyed found that the environment (44%) continues to be highlighted as the number one issue facing Australia today. In 2023, it was identified by young people as the most important issue for the second year in a row.

 Image of a young female. Text on image reads, ‘In the past year I have struggled with anxiety regarding my future, and climate change. - Female, 17, TAS’

Additionally, 21% of Youth Survey respondents said they were personally 'extremely’ or ‘very concerned’ about climate change this year.

These results should be a call to action for governments, given the engagement that young people have with the impacts of our changing climate and environment.

2. Equity and discrimination matter to young people

With public conversations about racism and the Voice Referendum, young people said they felt strongly about issues of equity and discrimination. Of our respondents, 31% identified equity and discrimination as one of the most important issues in Australia today.

For 27% of young people surveyed, their concern stems from personal experience of being treated unfairly or discriminated against in the last year, most commonly due to physical appearance, race/cultural background or gender.

  Image of a young female. Text on image reads, ‘I have experienced a lot of prejudice and discrimination based on my gender, especially around school interactive environments’

3. Economic and financial matters on many young minds

Over the past year, the economy and financial matters, such as the cost-of-living crisis and interest rate rises, caused greater levels of concern among young people. Just under a third of young people (31%), identified it as one of the most important issues in Australia today.

In 2023, 31% of young people who responded to our survey said they were concerned about economic and financial matters, compared with 22% in 2022 and 11% in 2021.

Young people were also concerned about related issues with 19% reporting concerns about homelessness and housing (up from 12% in 2022) and 15% of young people were personally ‘extremely’ or ‘very concerned’ about financial security.

Image of a young female. Text on image reads, Financial difficulties – the cost of food and petrol has meant that I have to work more and focus less on school. - Female, 18, NSW

4. Mental health is a national and personal concern

Respondents in our annual Youth Survey said mental health (30%) was one of the most important issues in Australia today and 32% of young people were personally ‘extremely’ or ‘very concerned’ about mental health.

Image of a young male. Text on image reads, My mental health has probably been the biggest challenge for me in the last year. I have been struggling with feeling down, stressed and overwhelmed

Mental health is also a deeply personal issue, with 24% of respondents personally facing a mental health challenge this year. Some young people shared experiences relating to:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Diagnosed disorders or self harm
Mental health can affect young people in a myriad of ways. One in three young people said nothing more could help, or they were unsure what could help with their challenges, indicating there is an opportunity to improve awareness of the supports available.

About Mission Australia's Annual Youth Survey

Mission Australia’s Youth Survey includes responses from 19,501 young people aged 15 to 19 surveyed between April and August 2023.

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 hold the needs of young people at their core.

Learn more about the Youth Survey or download your copy of Mission Australia’s Youth Survey Report 2023 for more information on youth in Australia.

Youth Survey Report 2023

Youth Survey Report 2023 Summary Booklet

Youth Survey 2023 State sub-reports

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