Mission Australia’s thirteenth annual Youth Survey has found that the most important aspirations for young people today are career success and home ownership, although many don’t believe they will actually achieve either.
With almost 14,000 responses nationally this year, the survey is the country’s largest insight into the minds of young people aged between 15 and 19, and an important barometer of the outlook of today’s youth.
This year for the first time it included questions on their aspirations and what they hoped to achieve.
Overall, young people place more importance on personal or financial aspirations compared to community-oriented goals like having a family or feeling part of their community.
Mission Australia uses the insights from the survey to guide policy recommendations that will support the development of young Australians.
It’s clear from the responses that the up and coming generation is feeling the pressure of the economic and financial challenges facing Australia, and wondering what the future holds.
A huge 87 per cent of respondents ranked career success as extremely or very important, although four in ten don’t believe it will be achievable.
And 86 per cent placed a high value on being financially independent, while 73 per cent aspire to own their own home.
On the other hand, 68 per cent aspire to having a family; while only 41 per cent believe that feeling part of their community is important.
Young people value friendships the most, followed by their family relationships and then school or study satisfaction.
Their greatest concerns are coping with stress, followed by school or study problems and body image.
Alarmingly, one in five respondents responded that they are extremely concerned or very concerned about depression and family conflict, with a higher percentage of female respondents than males indicating this.
When it comes to the nation, young people as a group believe politics and societal values are the most important issue in Australia today, followed by the economy and financial matters and then alcohol and drugs.
Females, however, rank economy and financial matters most highly, with equity and discrimination and mental health rounding out their top three.
What they’re doing
The top activity for young people today is playing sport (74.1 per cent) or watching it (67.6 per cent), with volunteer work (53.4 per cent) rounding out the top three.
Females spend more time engaging in arts, cultural and musical activities, with 61.4 per cent of females participating in these compared to 53 per cent of males.
Thirty-two per cent spend between 3 – 9 hours on social networking websites each week, 22 per cent clock between 10 and 19 hours and 20 per cent only log two hours or less.
Are they happy?
Overall, young people are a happy bunch, if not exactly optimistic. Sixty-five per cent of respondents indicated that they felt positive about their lives, consistent across genders. Males were twice as likely to state that they were very happy with their lives.