The exciting dynamics of Australia’s youth population has been overshadowed in recent years by continual discussion about our ageing population. The increasing number of young people, however, is starting to get people talking, thinking and planning. In a recent speech Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Phillip Lowe, noted that Australia is in a better economic position than most because our population is younger and more diverse than most other western countries (Lowe 2014). He argued, “this generation of young people will promote innovation and entrepreneurialism and grow our economy to maintain our standard of living despite the fact that more older people are about to leave the workforce than younger people are about to enter it.” (Lowe 2014).
While a diverse and dynamic generation of young people are a significant opportunity, some trends suggest that we are not investing in them enough. Growing income inequality in Australia means the potential of some young people is wasted because they don’t have opportunities. In addition, young people overall are finding it harder to become independent. They are older when they transition into full-time work, education is becoming more expensive, and income safety nets are being removed (for example, Newstart waiting periods). Young people are more in debt than any other generation and this may itself hamper the economy by preventing young people entering into other markets such as the housing market. These are not individual problems for young people. These are national problems to be urgently addressed.
We need to invest in young people. We need to prepare them for the future of work and to lead change and contribute in our communities. The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) backs young people. We are relentlessly optimistic about their capabilities and support them to develop their ideas, enterprise skills and global connections and to gain experience so they are equipped to build a strong future.
This section highlights the main demographic factors that will drive a thriving Australia into the future, through investment in our young people. We hope you find it useful and it contributes to your understanding of just how important young Australians are.