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Op-Ed: Australia’s future is bright thanks to our young people
One of the privileges of being a Member of Parliament is meeting and interacting with young people – in my electorate of Bradfield, and all around Australia.
I sometimes hear people claim that today’s young Australians are the entitled generation – in my view, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Young people today have grown up with the internet, smartphones and a constant flow of information – and as a result they are well informed and knowledgeable.
Young Australians have a well-informed perspective on Australia – and on the world. They have often travelled extensively to other countries; many have studied overseas or visited other countries as part of sporting or cultural exchanges.
And of course they have grown up in an Australia which is much more diverse than fifty years ago. When your classmates come from many different cultural, ethnic and language backgrounds, you simply take diversity for granted.
As for those who call young people “lazy” or “entitled”, I say this is very different from what I see in the busy, multitasking lives of young Australians today. Many are industrious, with many working more than one job while balancing a tertiary education and their social life.
Of course, today’s young Australians also face some pressures that earlier generations did not. It’s estimated that one in four young Australians aged 16 to 24 experience mental illness in any given year.
While this has many causes, the role of social media in my view cannot be ignored. A few years ago, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, I led work to establish the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. This Office provides many tools and resources for young people who may be struggling with online bullying, revenge porn, or some of the other nasties the internet can bring. If this is you, I’d encourage you to visit www.esafety.gov.au.
As Minister for Families and Social Services I was recently able to deliver $17 million in funding for additional services at headspace, an organisation dedicated to providing mental health support services to people aged 12 to 25.
One of the other priorities in my portfolio is supporting young people in the transition from school to work. We are funding some terrific programs around the country, such as Productivity Bootcamp in Penrith.
Each new generation needs to overcome its own distinctive set of challenges – and today’s young Australians are no different.
But today’s young Australians are a remarkable generation in my view – well informed, agile, innovative, hard-working and passionate.
In years to come the future of our nation will increasingly be in their hands – and I for one am confident that our nation has a bright future.
Paul Fletcher is the Federal MP for Bradfield and Minister for Families and Social Services