Young people are a vital resource

This section examines demographic trends: The number of young people Their diversity Their wellbeing Their transitions to adulthood

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The Overview

In general, young people are doing well: they are a resource not a problem

Australia’s young people have high levels of wellbeing compared to other countries

Despite socioeconomic differences, in general Australia’s young people are doing well.  Australia rates number one on two indices of youth wellbeing: the Commonwealth Youth Development Index of 170 countries (The Commonwealth 2013); and Global Youth Wellbeing Index of 30 countries (Goldin et al 2014). It ranks in the top ten for: health/wellbeing, political participation, education, civic participation, youth employment, economic opportunity, safety and security and IT access (The Commonwealth 2013; Goldin et al 2014). More detail on wellbeing can be found in the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth Report Card: The wellbeing of young Australians (ARACY 2013).

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See interactive global maps of wellbeing using the Global Youth Wellbeing Index

Compare pictures of an Australian family’s weekly shop with others around the world (photos)

Watch FYA’s young people creating change for others overseas

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Young people do not have as many issues as we are lead to believe

The majority of young people in Australia (about 80%) currently deal with the issues they face – such as bullying or stress – through their community and personal networks.  But there is a significant minority of up to twenty percent that require additional service intervention for issues such as a lack of literacy (6%), high levels of psychological distress (9%), substance addiction (13%) or living in poverty (13%) (AIHW 2011; ACOSS 2014).  A small number of these – less than 2 percent – experience the catastrophic problems that we most associate with young people because of their coverage in the press, such as suicide (0.0001%) and imprisonment (0.003%) (AIHW 2013).  These issues are extremely important but we should not lose sight of the enormous resource young people in Australia represent.  For every young person in prison or on a juvenile justice order, there are well over eight thousand young Australian volunteers, and many others looking for ways to contribute (ABS 2011a; AIHW 2011).

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Communities are important to young people’s wellbeing

Communities are important to the health, development and wellbeing of our young people.  Studies have shown communities help to shape young people’s identities, impact on belief in what they can achieve in their lives (self-efficacy) and how they respond to challenges (Rosenbaum et al 2002 in Pope 2011a).  Community networks have also been shown to improve young people’s physical and mental health, success at school, and employment outcomes (Pope 2011a).  Young people with high wellbeing are also a significant resource for communities in terms of being sources of the information and action that help community organisations and businesses innovate and help build the networks that create social cohesion (Pope 2011a).

Read the evidence that community networks have positive outcomes for young people 

Young people are taking action to promote mental health in communities

R U Ok community conversations Alive
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  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