A 2020 study just released by Mission Australia has revealed five per cent of young people in the country are in a family where both parents are unemployed.

A greater investment in mentoring is required to address the problem, according to the study.

Key national findings

Education

The study found that of the young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work:

  • 78% are studying full-time, compared with 88% for those who have parents/guardians in paid work.
  • 10% are studying part-time, compared with 6%
  • 12% are not studying, compared with 6%.

Employment

  • A much smaller proportion of respondents without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work were working part-time (28% compared with 42%).
  • A much greater proportion of respondents without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work were looking for work (43% compared with 34%).

Financial concerns

Young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work were much more likely to have experienced the following due to money concerns:

  • Not being able to pay bills (31% compared with 10%)
  • Seeking assistance from welfare organisations (28% compared with 7%)
  • Not being able to pay for petrol or car expenses (26% compared with 7%)

* Compared with respondents with parent/s or guardian/s in paid work.

Young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work were much more likely to have gone without the following items due to money concerns:

  • A holiday with family (49% compared with 28%)
  • A meal out with family once a month (35% compared with 16%)
  • Going out with friends (33% compared with 15%)

* Compared with respondents with parent/s or guardian/s in paid work

Experience of unfair treatment

More than one third of young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work experienced unfair treatment in the past twelve months (36% compared with 26% of respondents with parent/s or guardian/s in paid work).

Young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work were more likely to experience unfair treatment due to their:

·        Financial background (22% compared with 8%)

·        Mental health (38% compared with 25%)

·        Disability (16% compared with 6%)

* Compared with respondents with parent/s or guardian/s in paid work

Personal concerns

Young people without parent/s or guardian/s in paid work experienced much higher levels of personal concern about:

  • Financial security (27% compared with 14%)
  • Family conflict (25% compared with 15%)
  • Domestic/family violence (15% compared with 7%)

* Compared with respondents with parent/s or guardian/s in paid work

Recommendations

Governments have a key role to play in addressing disadvantage among young Australians, and Mission Australia believes they should act to:

  • Develop a whole-of-society approach to improving outcomes for young people, led by the Federal Government.
  • Fund and replicate evidence-based programs with proven success in supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to remain engaged with education.
  • Fund, evaluate and replicate alternative education pathways that address the complex needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Develop a national youth employment strategy.
  • Ensure that all households in Australia have access to adequate income through decent, stable work options or adequate income support payments during periods of unemployment.
  • Ensure that all schools have developed and implemented an evidence-based strategy to address bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • Fund free or low-cost school-based and community mental health supports.
  • Fully fund the Reconnect program to ensure it meets demand.
  • Fund specific therapeutic interventions for children and young people who are victim-survivors of domestic and family violence.

The business sector also already plays a role and could expand this even further, through:

  • Making recruitment decisions based on the strengths of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including their high personal motivation.
  • Investing in training and skills development programs that provide a pathway to employment.
  • Provide mentoring programs.
  • Invest in peer networking, mentoring programs and paid cadetships to keep young people employed over the long term.

Philanthropic organisations can also draw on the Youth Survey as a data source to inform their investment in addressing complex social issues through evidence-based approaches.

For more information email Mission Australia at researchandpolicy@missionaustralia.com.au