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Young People Are The Real Losers If They Don't Enrol To Vote

Politics matters.

23/05/2016 9:47 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Just a quick heads up, you only have until 8 pm tonight to have a say in your future.

When I was 11, I found out something that not many young people, even today, have quite grasped.

Politics matters.

It was 2007. The WorkChoices debate was raging around the country. Every night I saw old, boring (mostly) men on TV, rudely shouting at each other and using big words. But, as the policies of WorkChoices started to sink in, something clicked with me: this affects real people.

The cutting of wages and conditions at work was affecting members of my family and my community. I saw it at school, at soccer on weekends and around our kitchen table at night. I saw the reality that what these old, boring men were saying on TV mattered. It put the standard of living of the people I loved and our community at risk.

Since then, when it came to politics, I have always made an effort to be informed and active.

This election is about young people. Voting is always important, but in 2016, perhaps more than in many previous elections, we, the young people of Australia, must vote.

The Foundation for Young Australians has found our generation is very likely to be the first generation to be worse off than our parents. We are being ripped off and our Government is implicitly and explicitly involved in the process.

Unlike our parents and grandparents, we face the prospect of never owning our own homes.

Wages growth has slowed. With a Coalition Government committed to smashing unions, that will only get worse. Inevitably, our living standards and quality of life will deteriorate.

Oxfam has found the world's top 1 percent of income earners own as much wealth as the bottom 60 percent. This unprecedented inequality affects working and middle-class people. The wealth created of late has gone to the top but it seems it's not enough. The same ultra-wealthy people can avoid tax and get tax cuts unavailable to us further down the food chain.

Young people, especially young workers, get nothing. Young people like me are being told to give up our weekend penalty rates, to cop the exciting offer to work for $4 an hour and to quit whining.

We are at risk of having our human right to a university, TAFE education or apprenticeship taken away from us by politicians who received those things for free.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are still not recognised as the sovereign first peoples of this country.

Climate Change threatens to rock the foundations of the planet we all count on to survive

Women still earn, on average, 17 percent less than men.

These are huge, complex issues. And they are only stones in the mountain of challenges that face our generation.

To progress to a better world we have two options:

1. Have a Facebook rant or two, argue with someone on Twitter, yell at whatever screen you're watching and even enjoy a laugh at an excellent political meme;

2. Enrol at http://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/ and vote for a better future.

In the 2013 Federal election roughly 400,000 young people were not enrolled to vote.

That is 400,000 young people not participating in our democracy, 400,000 young people who are sitting by and letting other, older, people decide their future for them.

400,000 votes are enough to make a significant difference in this election. Together we can demand a better future. Together we can demand that we stop being robbed and together we are powerful.

I'm a retail worker and university student. But little, young me has the chance in this election to make a difference on the issues I care about, the issues that matter to my life and future.

Politics matters. It's not just some old, boring (mostly) men yelling on TV. It affects you. So do yourself a favour right now. Enrol to vote and stay engaged. Our very way of life might just depend on it.

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