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1 Million Women is calling for broad political agreement across party lines at the 2016 Australian election, and beyond, for urgent and sustained action on: Climate change, protection of the Great Barrier Reef, and a commitment to gender equality. Please sign our open letter to candidates here. Let your voice be heard.
In the lead up the Australian Federal Election, we're taking a look at the issues that concern our community. In this article, we'll explore the main concerns of young Australians as they take to the voting booths in July.
According to a new survey by The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, the top three issues that Australia's youngest voters are worried about are:
- Asylum seekers
- Same-sex marriage
- Climate change
Environment policies are there, too, at the sixth most important issue to this demographic.
Researchers surveyed 3,369 Australians aged between 12 and 25. While unable to cast a vote until aged 18, it is important that we engage our future voters, especially when you consider that 18 to 24-year-olds have the worst number of voter enrolments in our country. Nearly half of all 18-year-olds were not enrolled to vote in April 2016.
However, there is some good news: this year we saw a 20% increase in the number of young people enrolling, with the Australian Electoral Commission reporting a 71% overall rate of enrolments as of June 2016.
A major factor in achieving this increase was strong social media campaigns urging this group to sign up and use their democratic right. At the same time, politicians have largely ignored this group, with few MPs directly engaging the public on youth issues specifically.
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So, if you want to get the youth vote this year, what should you do?
- Make human rights and sustainability priorities: Young people are worried about their future, and climate change is a legitimate fear for many of us. We want to know that our leaders are trying to put in place policies to help mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change.
- Show some human kindness and respect for others: Young people (contrary to popular opinion) don't just care about themselves. We're passionate about the rights of others, from asylum seekers to the LGBTIQ* community. We don't want to see discrimination, and we are sick of listening to politicians trying to scare us about "boat people". We're more scared that you're not doing anything to protect the human rights of those you keep in mandatory detention.
- Skip the memes and the emojis: we want change. Seriously. We don't care if you can use up-to-date slang or if you know whose songs are at the top of the charts (most of us probably don't know either). We want to see real action on the issues that we care about, because ultimately we're the ones that will have to sort out the mess if you get it wrong.
- Take us seriously. Yes, we know we dress differently to how you did at our age. Yes, we're well aware how much time we spend on our mobile phones, but stop treating us as an afterthought and start recognising that we will be the ones making the policies when you're in a retirement home.
(I hope our nation's leaders are taking notes)
Please sign our open letter to candidates here. Let your voice be heard.
Read this next: How to take your first steps in climate activism