Published by Azraf Ezaz and Arshia Rana in The Canberra Times, May 21, 2022 - image credit: The Canberra Times - AAP
Will you use your vote to uphold the voices of those of us who can't?
By Azraf Ezaz and Arshia Rana
The concerns of young people are the concerns of tomorrow - but at this federal election, we don't have a voice. So before you cast your vote today, we'd like you to consider the following five issues on behalf of young Australians.
If you're reading this and wondering, "Why consider that far into the future? There will be another election in three years anyway". Fair enough. But think about this: 2019 was just three years ago. Since then, house prices have risen 35 per cent across the eight capital cities of our country. A $1 million home in 2019 would cost $350,000 more today.
When we enter the workforce, assuming we actually earn the median income of $51,000 and (impossibly) save all of it, it will take us seven years more just to earn that 35 per cent increase. The rest of the $1 million is just a dream. Although this is good for the investment property owner, who will now earn $350,000 more in the selling of the property, there's unlikely to be many in our generation who can afford to own a home.
Will the party you vote for consider how young people can put a roof of their own over their heads?
Of course the issues you've considered up to now while voting will cease to matter if our environment continues to deteriorate, destroying our home, landscape and economy.
You see, with carbon emissions and general pollution through the roof, Earth's atmosphere is becoming increasingly contaminated, causing the extinction of species, rising sea levels and ecological imbalance in general.
We want voters to think of our generation, the one that will inherit the exacerbated issues of today. If the government you elect does not take care of the environment, young people like us will inherit a world where these problems are more severe and irreversible.
Not to mention the negative impact of climate change on our economy, where ecological damage will begin to incur higher expenses.
Does the party you're voting for have a sound climate and pollution policy? Do they plan on investing in cleaner and renewable energy?
Despite not being able to vote, we are often impacted most by the decisions of our government. Not only are we affected by youth policies, but all decisions made affect us in some way, either through our parents or impacts on our future.
Does your first preference party have anti-discrimination and harassment policies for schools? Do they ensure the strength of their child-safety practices?
By considering these questions, you're playing your part in safeguarding young people against harm and thus ensuring a healthier future for Australia.
We also want our voices heard and concerns recognised. To uphold the integrity of our democracy, the government must consider the demands of all citizens, even those who can't vote.
So it's important that the party you vote for has programs that allow young people to voice their concerns about decisions and policies.
One-third of the Indigenous youth population have to face the criminal justice system, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. About 49 per cent of the youth in juvenile detention centres are Indigenous. Almost all of these detainments are due to crimes committed by those of low socio-economic backgrounds in remote places.
If you can help break the cycle - where disadvantage leads to crime, which leads to further disadvantage - you guarantee our generation of Indigenous people a brighter future.
Will the party you vote for boost Indigenous access to essential services like health and education?
Diversity and inclusion
Statistically, one in five people we know will have a disability. We as a society have the responsibility to ensure every one of these people can be an active member of our communities.
We need wheelchair accessibility, Auslan interpreters, and ensured access to services for those with mental health issues.
Will the political party you vote for make sure that those in specialist schools, those with neurodivergent brains and physical impairments do not fall behind in the future?
Inclusivity does not just stop there, because almost 30 per cent of our population was born overseas, according to ABS data from 2020.
This means our friends and neighbours speak a variety of languages, celebrate a plethora of holidays and have a diverse range of beliefs.
Will the government you elect make sure the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are upheld?