In a tough year for young people, discrimination and the coronavirus pandemic weighed the heaviest on teenage Aussie minds.
A survey of more than 25,000 young Australians has found teen girls are much more stressed than their male counterparts, but concerns over discrimination and COVID-19 cut across gender lines.
The issue of equity and discrimination was deemed the most important issue, shooting up to the top of the Christian charity organisation Mission Australia’s Youth Survey Report for the first time.
Four in 10 teens said that was the top national issue.
A quarter of respondents said they had been unfairly treated in the past year, most commonly because of their gender. Gender discrimination was felt twice as much by females compared with males.
Race and cultural background was the second most common reason for being discriminated against.
COVID-19 came a close second in the ranking of the country’s most important issues.
As for personal worries, stress was the number one issue – and one that bothered females much more than men.
While 56 per cent of female respondents coping with stress said the level was extremely or very concerning, only a quarter of males gave the same response.
Concerns over mental health and body image came in behind stress, with about a third of respondents saying both of those issues were of great concern. Those issues, too, were much more concerning for females than males.
“Dismissing young people’s concerns as gender politics is to miss the point. The message loud and clear is that young females and young males are concerned about gender inequality in Australia,” Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said.
“Young people are also experiencing and seeing racial injustices in their day-to-day lives. Their own experience of this discrimination, alongside escalating media coverage, public dialogue and grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter are likely to be affecting young people’s thoughts about the state of Australia and the world around them.”