FACES OF YOUNG AUSTRALIA
(PICTURES: Courtesy of Mission Australia).
do young people value?
are the most concerning issues to young people?
Alcohol and other drugs
Young Australians value friendships, their independence and the
feeling of being needed or valued, according to a new survey.
The survey, carried out by Christian community service organisation
Mission Australia, also found that alcohol and drugs, bullying and
emotional abuse, and coping with stress are the three issues that
young people are most concerned about.
This year’s survey was the third Mission Australia has undertaken.
It involved about 8,500 young people aged between 11 and 24 years
from across Australia. Surveys were completed online and at schools
Anne Hampshire, national manager of research and social policy at
Mission Australia, says responses to the question what young people
value - which was asked for the first time - show that young people
are “pretty people-centred”.
“Things like financial security dropped down the list...”
she says. “They’re very people-centred responses. Young
people are saying they really value friendships and relationships.”
“I think that’s really encouraging when we hear so many
messages about economics and that being the driver for people generally.
It’s really heartening for us to hear that young people are
The survey shows that 80.2 per cent of respondents ranked friendships
and relationships of chief importance, followed by ‘being
independent’ at 46 per cent and ‘feeling valued/needed’
at 45.1 per cent.
Fifty-one per cent of female respondents placed a high value on
‘feeling needed/valued’ compared with only 37.5 per
cent of males.
In terms of what most concerns young people, Hampshire says issues
such as alcohol and drugs, bullying and emotional abuse and coping
with stress have increased in importance to young people when compared
with previous surveys.
“Coping with stress the year before last about 24.2 per cent
of people were concerned about it,” she says. “This
year it’s 35.1 per cent and it’s also increased in its
previous two surveys depression and suicide were of most concern
to respondents, however for this survey the issue was split into
two separate categories - suicide/self harm and depression - which
were ranked most important by 33.7 per cent and 29.9 per cent of
Hampshire says the survey results will help Mission Australia in
its work with young people as well as inform the broader community,
including teachers, parents and other young-oriented organisations.
“Young people are obviously coping with a lot of pretty complex
issues at a young age,” she says. “They’ve got
a lot happening in terms of school and family - a lot of them are
working and involved with employment. It’s now a pretty stressful
life for young people but once we actually know the sorts of issues
that are of a concern to them, we as a community are much better
placed to actually respond to them appropriately.”
The survey also asked where young people go for advice and support
if they had a problem. Friends were ranked by 86.1 per cent of respondants
as being in the top three answers followed by parents (71.1 per
cent) and relatives or family friends (62.7 per cent). The poll
also shows a considerable decline in the percentage of young people
who saw school counsellors or guidance officers as an important
source of support - from 27 per cent of respondents in 2003 to 13.7
per cent in the most recent survey.
“Again that’s incredibly useful knowledge for us,”
says Hampshire. “If we know what issues they’re concerned
about, if we know who they’re going to, we can actually help
provide better support networks among friends, we can actually support
parents more effectively and perhaps we can actually help support
the wider family network because some young people are going to
them as well.”
Another first-time question asked young people to name three organisations
“The wisdom before we asked that question was that probably
we thought people would say sporting heroes or pop stars and things
like that,” says Hampshire. “But actually what turned
out was young people overwhelmingly mentioned family members and
friends as the people who they admire. So again, that’s a
pretty encouraging sign.”
The survey shows that while young people are engaged in sport and
art-related activities in clubs and youth groups within the community,
they are also increasingly becoming involved in volunteering, particularly
as they enter adulthood, with about a quarter of 20 to 24-year-olds
in the survey indicating they were doing so.