Young Australians financial security anxiety

Understanding young Australians and their concerns

New research from the Monash Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice (CYPEP), has found that young Australians are experiencing anxiety related to financial security more than ever before.

The 2021 Australian Youth Barometer was conducted by the CYPEP and surveyed over 500 young Australians aged 18-24. The report captures the views of young people on topics including education, employment, health and wellbeing, finances, housing, civic participation and the impact of COVID-19.

Security in terms of their standard of living was a big concern for young Australians. About 69 per cent of young people surveyed reported that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure access to affordable housing for everyone. Interviews with these young people identified that they were worried about being able to afford a house in the current housing market. 

For the 22 per cent of young people who said they were struggling financially, food and housing were priorities, while other aspects of life such as socialising took a back seat. Young people who had a disability were 1.7 times more likely to report experiencing financial difficulties. 

Professor Lucas Walsh, Director of the CYPEP, says the findings paint a complex picture of young Australians today.

“The Barometer highlights a mix of positivity and resilience amongst young people, while also showing deeper challenges related to their futures. The survey findings showed the pressures some young Australians were under and provided an insight into understanding what ‘the new normal’ might look like post-COVID and how we can collectively build thriving communities and sustainable futures for the benefit of all Australians,” said Professor Walsh. 

Despite young people reporting that buy-now-pay-later services have a negative impact on their financial wellbeing, 53 per cent of those surveyed said they regularly used these services. 

Contrary to wider belief, young people had mixed feelings about social media and saw it as an opportunity and inhibitor of healthy public debate among, and with, other young people.

Just under a third of young people, 29 per cent, reported having poor or very poor mental health. Participants described physical and mental health as two sides of the same coin. Being healthy was multifaceted and maintained using diverse strategies and coping mechanisms.

Chair of the CYPEP Advisory Board, Katrina Reynen OAM, said young people have recently experienced what we know around the world as ‘unprecedented times’ and they continue to learn about their new normal at the same time as they create it. 

“We can all learn so much from young people who own the responsibility of ensuring that their world and policies reflect their needs. The Youth Barometer is a brilliant way to amplify the voices of young people, and is underpinned by the world renowned research capability of Monash University. This important work has laid a baseline of youth voice which will enable future evaluations to track youth sentiment, anxiety, attitudes, hopes and dreams,” said Ms Reynen. 

Overall young people’s satisfaction with online learning remained high during the pandemic. Around 58 per cent of young learners reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their online learning experience, which significantly outweighed the 14.7 per cent who reported being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their experience with virtual learning. 

These findings are a testament of the Australian education system’s largely successful switch to remote learning during the pandemic. Despite lockdowns, satisfaction with online learning has continued to remain high.

“The concerns expressed in the findings about climate change, work, health and well-being, and technology are shared by many Australians across a wide variety of age groups. The attitudes and views of young people in this report provide windows into the wider worlds that we all inhabit and that should consequently concern us all,” said Professor Walsh. 

CYPEP is a multi-disciplinary centre undertaking research into the social, political and economic factors that affect young people’s lives. The Centre aims to change the conversation about young people’s futures and how we can work with them, educators and policy makers, to address disadvantages and build thriving communities.  

The CYPEP and the 2021 Australian Youth Barometer was officially launched earlier this week. 

To learn more about the Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice and the 2021 Australian Youth Barometer, please visit: https://www.monash.edu/education/cypep

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