January 16, 2010

Young people occupy a unique position in society: they face formal and informal discrimination, as well as disproportionate social and political exclusion. They are often the first to be hit, and are more affected by homelessness, violence, poverty, social exclusion, attacks on workers and students.

Young people should have the ability to input meaningfully into the decisions that affect their lives. They should have opportunities to reach their full potential, free from exploitation, oppression and discrimination.

To this end, the Socialist Alliance supports and campaigns for:

A political voice for young people

  • A lowering of the voting age to 16.
  • Funding and resources for social change organisations run by young people for young people.

Affordable and accessible housing

  • Housing is a human right. Young people are among the worst affected by the lack of affordable housing. Addressing the problem of youth homelessness and the housing crisis among the young will only be possible if the housing profiteers are stopped. More solutions can be found in The Socialist Alliance Housing Policy.

Mental wellbeing for young people

  • About 75% of diagnosed mental health problems occur before the age of 25. These mental health problems, including depression, are major factors in a person's decision to commit suicide.
  • There should be more funding for mental health services, including specific, multi-disciplinary, youth mental health teams that cover 16-24 year olds. Early intervention of dedicated mental health services for young people is critical.
  • Funding for educational campaigns to raise awareness of the common mental illnesses will help break down stigma, improve an understanding of what to watch out for and where to seek help, and assist with integrating people with mental illnesses into workplaces and communities.

A universal, free, quality secular education system

  • Young people largely bear the brunt of the neoliberal cuts to education. Education is critical for an engaged community affected by the dismantling of the public education system. And it is young people who will be the main actor in struggle for change in education.
  • The Socialist Alliance stands for a universal, free, quality secular education system. Find out more in The Socialist Alliance Education Policy.
Public space for young people
  • There is inadequate public space and infrastructure where young people can meet and be without having to become consumers or hostage to aggressive corporate marketing. Young people need public places where they can develop their own interests, culture and activities.
An end to violence and discrimination
  • Young people experience alienation as a result of discrimination and social and political exclusion.
  • Racism, sexism and homophobia, for example, are heightened among young people. Violence – that takes many different forms - is a direct product of this.
  • LGBTIQ+ youth are 14 times more likely to commit suicide than non-LGBTIQ+ youth. One third of homeless youth are queer.
  • The Socialist Alliance rejects the “law and order” approach which relies on failing or punishing young people.
  • Rather, the focus should be on educational campaigns which engage and give confidence to young people. These would rely on the input by young people.
Raise Newstart, Youth Allowance, ABStudy and AUStudy
  • Newstart, Youth Allowance, ABStudy and AUStudy entitlements should be raised to a living wage, well above the poverty line.
  • The age of independence test should be lowered to 16 years, the age at which a young person can leave home.
  • No young person in Australia should be forced to live in poverty while looking for work or studying. For more detail see the Socialist Alliance Welfare Policy.
Satisfying jobs at a living wage
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment is a structural problem.
  • The percentage of unemployed young people is at about double the rate of the rest of the population at any given time. Those young people who can find work are largely employed in casual, insecure and low-paid jobs. This means that young people are less likely to look for work and this has a major impact on young people’s standard of living.
  • Young workers are also disadvantaged from the lack of union organisation in their workplaces.
  • Unions should pay special attention to involving young people and they also need to focus on justice for young workers.
  • There would be a large range of jobs created, including for young people, if climate change was taken seriously and could fast track the country towards sustainable energy.
  • The Socialist Alliance rejects youth pay rates which allow young people to be used as virtual slave labour as they perform the same work for less pay and conditions compared to other workers doing the same job. More information can be found in Socialist Alliance's Charter of Worker and Union Rights.
No Welfare Sanctions

The Socialist Alliance believes that all laws which seek to limit the ability of young people to access welfare and unemployment entitlements should be repealed. They include work-for-the-dole schemes, as well as drug-testing programs, “ability tests” and other processes which seek to cut claimants, and youth in particular, off from their primary source of income. More information is available in our Welfare Rights Charter.