POLITICS

Why Australia's Youth And Political Parties Aren't Talking

It's a much bigger issue than smashed avo.

21/10/2016 4:07 PM AEDT | Updated 22/10/2016 6:09 PM AEDT
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Yes, there was an avocado presented to a senate estimates hearing this week. And that needs to happen more often, apparently.

As the smashed avocado debate has coined a new name for millennials, the conversation shows we are at a generational crisis point, political experts say.

New research shows young Australians are struggling to engage with major political parties on their economic policies, as they become more irrelevant for millennials.

A survey with 1200 Aussies aged between 16 and 30 revealed young people are engaging in political discourse surrounding social issues such as marriage equality, race and gender but disengage with political economic discussion.

Sydney University Professor of Political Sociology, Ariadne Vromen, said major political parties need to start addressing economic issues relevant to young Aussies such housing security and the nature of work.

"This generation is experiencing more insecurity than ever before because the nature of work is changing quite dramatically," Vromen told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Young people are much less likely to have a permanent job, they're much more likely to be in casual, precarious work."

If people don't see it as a broader social issue around intergenerational inequity then its going to be harder and harder for young people's different lived experiences to be heard in politics.Professor Ariadne Vromen

Fifty percent of young employed Australians are in part time or casual work, said Vromen, which remains insecure. When you add this factor to the reality more young Australians are turning to rent as a long term solution, the instability becomes more prevalent.

And if you haven't seen it already, The Guardian has pulled together an interactive article showing a young Aussie would need to skip more than 9000 avocado toast brunches to save up for a house deposit in Sydney.

"We don't talk about it much because people think it's temporary, that it will change, but where are the incentives for it change, and where are the power bases that will make a change," Vromen said.

"There is quite a palpable anger amongst young people, but there's also a complete lack of engagement by the major parties on this issue and how it actually effects young people in quite a different way compared to other generations."

As more young Aussies turn to the renting as a long term solution (and $22 brunches) Vromen said major parties should be looking at solutions to further regulate the rental market.

In Europe and in the U.S, in places like New York, there is much tighter rental control where people often have more rights than the owners and I think we need to develop a better system [in Australia] for housing security.Professor Ariadne Vromen

"In Europe and in the U.S, in places like New York, there is much tighter rental control where people often have more rights than the owners and I think we need to develop a better system [in Australia] for housing security," Vromen said.

"If people don't see it as a broader social issue around intergenerational inequity then its going to be harder and harder for young people's different lived experiences to be heard in politics."

Young people, aged between 18 and 30, make up only 20 percent of the electorate and there is no longer a Minister for Youth. Vromen said the defunding of youth advocacy groups has led to young Australians' voices dissipating in Canberra.

"Without a minister for youth advocating for it, and without peak body organisations that makes it even harder to get on the political agenda," Vromen said.

But if the avocado debate is anything to go by, that's just changed, as the issue came up in Parliament this week. And yes, there was an avocado presented to a senate estimates hearing.

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