All young people should have a voice

| June 8, 2016

Mission Australia’s Youth Survey is currently open to all Australian young people aged 15 to 19 years. Dr Joann Fildes says we need to encourage young people to speak up and really listen to their views.

Do you want to know what the young people in your life are thinking? Here at Mission Australia, we certainly do. We know that young Australians are our future and their views are important across all areas of policy.

For fifteen years we’ve run an annual Youth Survey with nearly 20,000 respondents in 2015. It is the largest survey of its kind in Australia.

Each year, the Youth Survey provides a valuable insight of young Australians and offers an important understanding of young people that informs our work, that of other community groups and the decision makers in government. So, we want to know what is important to young people in the year 2016.

In this year’s survey (which is open until 31st July) we have included new focus questions to gain a better understanding of young people’s experiences of discrimination, as well as questions focused on young peoples’ sense of community.

Last year our Youth Survey revealed the most important issues to young people in Australia were alcohol and drugs, equity and discrimination and the economy and financial matters. The results also showed young Australians have big aspirations, yet more than half felt that barriers existed to the achievement of future education and employment goals.

Based on those results, we have called on the government to better support our most vulnerable young job seekers by addressing the gap in the current youth employment programs to ensure young people have the skills and experience to take on the jobs of tomorrow.

Our survey also revealed that nearly one in seven young Australians spent time away from home in the last three years because they felt they couldn’t return.

This is a startling finding that points to high rates of couch surfing for Australian young people. They can live temporarily in other households – perhaps sleeping on friends’ sofas or in the spare room or garage of a relative – because they believe they can’t return home.

What might start as occasional couch surfing can turn into more entrenched homelessness without appropriate early intervention. To prevent this escalating, there are crucial services available early, such as Reconnect services which works with the whole family to resolve family conflict or the Ryde Project which works through schools to identify young people at risk of homelessness.

More broadly, we need affordable housing options for young people with wrap around supports connecting them to specialist services as well as education and work. Mission Australia will continue to advocate for such programs in the lead up to the election and in meetings with government and the sector.

Mission Australia’s Youth Survey is currently open to all Australian young people aged 15 to 19 years old until 31st July 2016. With nearly 19,000 participants last year we are hoping to exceed 20,000 respondents this year.

We believe everyone is responsible for encouraging young people to speak up and, perhaps most importantly, really listen to their views.

You can find the survey here. Please share it with your family and friends.

Joann Fildes

Dr Joann Fildes is Head of Research and Evaluation at Mission Australia and has been there for nearly seven years. During her time at Mission Australia she has focused on ensuring that those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable have a voice and that this is reflected in policy and the provision of services. She is especially passionate about the voice of young people being heard as they are often not considered in policy and have many concerns and issues that need to be addressed and are the future of Australia and beyond.


  1. Alex_Fox

    June 17, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Youth Discrimination

    Youth discrimination is a huge problem. Here they write that every time you say something like "Act your age" you discriminate young people.