As the global economic crisis gets worse internationally, many people in Australia are keeping their fingers crossed that things won’t get as bad here.
But young people’s prospects are already bleaker today than they were just 5 years ago before the crisis hit. All the indicators suggest things are only going downhill from here!
At the moment, the number of people leaving high school who don’t have full time study or full time work to look forward to is higher than any time in the last 20 years. Around 1 in 5 people between the ages of 15 and 25 aren’t studying, aren’t doing an apprenticeship, and don’t have full time work. That’s about half a million young people!
Many young people are turning their backs on higher education due to the high costs, particularly if their parents can’t provide them with financial support. But they are not faring any better on the jobs market. Youth unemployment has risen to 12.5%. In some areas it’s over 30%!
At the same time that youth unemployment is rising, people who are studying full time are having to work longer hours to get by. 1 in 5 students are now working more than 25 hours per week! This clearly impacts on their study, with an estimated 1 in 4 students regularly missing classes due to work commitments.
Young people are also twice as likely to experience housing stress. 1 in 5 young people spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Due to the housing affordability crisis, many people are moving further and further away from where they work or study. This creates further stress and financial strain having to deal with an expensive and inadequate public transport system.
All the while, the rich are getting richer! Last year, Australia’s 200 richest people increased their wealth by 23%! Australia’s richest 20% own 61% of the wealth, while the poorest 20% own just 1% of the wealth!
If Australia’s tax rates were the same rate as in the UK, an extra $108 billion would be available for public spending on education, housing, public transport, job training and real action to address climate change.
Very little is being done to address the problems of an enormous wealth inequality. This is because young people have very little political representation. Things won’t improve until young people get organised and start to fightback!