Contributing to and leading change

This sections examines young people’s social action: Traditional forms including volunteering Participation in political groups New ways of creating change using technology New ways of creating change with the disciplines of business  

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The Overview

People are disillusioned by traditional politics

Young people are interested in issues

While young people are interested in issues, they are increasingly disillusioned with official politics.  After the last federal election, young people in Australia reported discussing politics over the election period as much as adults (76% aged 18 to 24 at least occasionally and 30% said they did so frequently) (Bean et al 2014).  However:

  • a lower proportion were enrolled to vote than adults (from 19% at age 17, 60% ages 18 to 19, 72% ages 20 to 24 compared to 85% of those over 25) (AIHW 2011)
  • only 40% (aged 18 to 24) report being interested in politics (very or somewhat) in general compared to 60% of over 24 year olds (McAllister & Pietsch 2012)
  • the majority of Australian young people (60% compared to 40% of adults) no longer think democracy is the best form of government because they have either become disillusioned with politics, think this form of governance is unfair, and/or think political parties offer no real choices (Lowy 2014).


A survey of Australians found 51% of 18-29 year-olds do not think democracy is preferable to any other kind of government (compared to 35% all adults) (Lowy 2015). For those aged 18 to 29 who do not see democracy as the preferable form of government, the strongest reasons have been show to be:

  • it only serves the interests of a few and not the majority of society (76% compared to 76% of all adults)
  • there is no real difference between the policies of the major parties (70% compared to 74% of all adults)
  • they have become disillusioned with Australian politics and think another system might work better (65% compared to 64% of all adults) (Lowy 2014).

Around half young people (and adults) report they are not able to have a say on issues of importance within their community (49% of 15-17 year olds, 53% of 18-24 year olds and 46% of those aged 25+ (ABS 2015).

Section 4_activites in last election

Watch students campaigning to change the education system with Student Shout Out


  1. Young people are a vital resource
  2. Future challenges for young people
  3. The transition from school to work
  4. Contributing to and leading change