Young Australians are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 recession and recovery, suffering from significant loss of work, severe mental health challenges, and disruption to their education and training.
Unemployment has skyrocketed for all young Australians, but young women were much worse off, with 45 per cent reporting losing their job due to COVID-19, compared to 34 per cent of young men.
One in five young Australian women were living with anxiety or depression in 2019, before the challenges of the pandemic. Experts reported that young women were more likely to seek mental health support during the pandemic than their male counterparts.
Young women’s futures have also been impacted by the Early Access Superannuation Scheme. Analysis shows that one million workers under the age of 35 either completely emptied their accounts or now have less than $1,000 in super. Young women were more likely to access their super compared to men in the same age group.
The Liberal Government is refusing to listen to young people. They established a Youth Taskforce in 2019, but have fallen silent since the Taskforce handed down its interim report in December 2019. The final report is almost six months overdue.
While the Government sits on its hands the situation for young women is getting worse. The Government’s own Interim Report of the Youth Taskforce acknowledged that young Australians are becoming more disenchanted with government. A recent report found 73 per cent of young women aged 18-21 do not believe that women in politics are treated equally to men.
Youth underemployment now sits at over 16 per cent, but the Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH program has been a complete failure. Over four years after it was announced, they haven’t met even half the original target for new internships.
Low wage growth, underemployment, unaffordable housing, less accessible education, the precariousness of the gig economy and increasing inequality of wealth means, for the first time in our modern history, young Australians are set to inherit a less prosperous and less secure future.
The Budget was a missed opportunity to make sure this generation of young women don’t end up worse off than those before them.
Young Australians deserve a whole-of-government plan that tackles the multiple crises they are facing. Labor continues to call on the Government and the Minister to urgently implement a COVID-19 Youth Recovery Strategy that is co-designed with young people. That would be a real leap towards a more prosperous and secure future for young people and our nation.
Labor will continue to listen to and work with young Australians.