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DAVID ADAMS reports on the findings of the latest Mission Australia survey of young Australians…

Australian youth rate concerns about body image as their biggest worry in welfare charity Mission Australia’s annual national survey young people’s attitudes.

Almost 29,000 males and females aged between 11 and 24 took part in the online survey – Mission Australia’s sixth – with 95.5 per cent of them aged between 11 and 19.


NO WORRIES? Mission Australia’s survey shows almost a third of young people in Australia rank body image as a significant concern. PICTURE: Konrad Mostert ( 


“As a community, we should be concerned by these results.”

– Anne Hampshire, Mission Australia spokesperson.

Asked to rank 14 issues with regard to the level of concern they felt for each, 32.3 per cent of respondents – both males and females – rank body image in their top three, followed by family conflict (29.3 per cent) and coping with stress (26.9 per cent).

Anne Hampshire, Mission Australia spokesperson, says young people’s growing concern with body image – it ranked the third most worrying issue in the 2006 survey – should be viewed with concern.

She says that among young adults aged 20 to 24 years concern about body image has doubled since the last survey while the percentage of young women who said body image was a concern had increased from 28.5 to 34.9 per cent.

“As a community, we should be concerned by these results,” Ms Hampshire says.

Elsewhere the survey flags rising concern with environmental issues among young people. Around a quarter of young people – 23.4 per cent – rated these, included for the first time in the survey, as a major concern. Other key concerns include alcohol and drugs – a significant concern to one in five respondents.

Asked what they valued, around three quarters of respondents said they highly value family relationships and 60.3 per cent friendships – figures well ahead of financial security (12.6 per cent) and getting a job (15.9 per cent). 

Around a third said they highly value physical and mental health while only 14.5 per cent say they value spirituality or faith – a figure which is only slightly higher than last year’s figure of 13.9 per cent (although it climbs to as high as 17.4 per cent among 20 to 24-year-olds).

As many as 82.9 per cent of respondents indicate they had adequate information on these issues and know who to turn to for help. Eighty-six per cent say friends were a main source of advice while 73.6 per cent identify parents as a key support and about one in five used the internet as a primary source of advice.

“What’s also encouraging is that young people are not afraid to talk about issues of concern to someone who’s close – either their friends, family or another relative,” says Mr Hampshire.

“We need to continue empowering young people – and their parents and families – so they have the information they need. As we’ve seen from our survey, when facing issues of concern, most people go to their friends and family for help.” 

Elsewhere the survey shows that 66.7 per cent of respondents are involved in sports, 42.8 per cent in the arts or cultural activities and 27.4 per cent in youth groups and clubs. Almost a quarter were involved in religious activities and 21.6 per cent in volunteering.



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