Survey reveals youth despair

A SURVEY of WA youth has found an alarming 90 per cent believe the Covid-19 pandemic has had a “significant impact” on their mental health and wellbeing.

The Youth Affairs Council of WA recently ran a Covid-19 survey on its website, which had 345 respondents from around the state. 

YACWA policy and advocacy officer Stefaan Bruce-Truglio said the survey raised a range of issues worrying young people, including their health and mental health, employment, education and access to information about welfare support. 

“In particular social restrictions and reduced access to education, employment and youth services are taking a significant toll,” Mr Truglio said. 

“The loss of social interaction is a primary concern for a majority of young people. 

“They revealed significantly increased mental health issues as a result.”

Some of the young people said they’d struggled engaging with Centrelink. 

Mr Bruce-Truglio said respondents had called for increased government funding for a more diverse range of mental health supports targeted towards young people, particularly vulnerable cohorts such as the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Unemployment

“Over the past few weeks, YACWA has been engaged with a number of key state government decision-making bodies responding to Covid-19 and have provided recommendations from feedback of the survey making sure the outlined concerns are being heard,” he said. 

Last week federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed Australia’s youth unemployment rate had jumped to 13.8 per cent.

That’s the highest it has been since the GFC, and according to analysts Trading Economics it’s likely to peak at more than 18 per cent by the end of the year before trailing off.

Prime minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the impact of the pandemic at his weekly news briefing last week, saying he recalled friends who’d lost work during Australia’s last recession in the early 90s.

“This is harder. We haven’t seen this before,” Mr Morrison said.

“And for many young people who have never experienced that, this is beyond anything they could imagine.”

But the PM finished with a message of hope, saying the country had emerged from the last recession into its longest run of economic growth on record.

by ATHENA FINN and STEVE GRANT

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