By Claire Ottaviano
THE final years of high school are known to be a stressful time at the best of times.
Throw in COVID-19, school closures and job uncertainty and you have a whole generation of young people with more questions than answers about their future.
The chance to have her thoughts on topical issues heard on a national scale spurred Guildford Grammar School student Gemma Smith to speak out for young people affected by COVID-19 through the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey.
The 2020 youth survey is for young people aged 15-19 across Western Australia to share their views on the issues that concern them.
This year, the survey will continue to look at mental health and wellbeing with an added focus on Coronavirus’ impact on pre-existing and emerging stress factors.
Year 12 student Gemma is a first time participant of the annual survey.
“Outside of school, I feel as though my voice isn’t taken as seriously as the voice of an older person,” she said.
“Being a spokesperson for Mission Australia’s Youth Survey is important because I am being presented with the opportunity to express my opinions and concerns to a wider audience and hopefully make a change.”
Gemma has been able to maintain her casual job as a delivery driver but worries about her future prospects after graduation.
“My biggest fear or stress is that I will follow my passions only to find that there will be no jobs available to me,” she said.
“A common stress factor for my peers at this time of their life is choosing the right university, choosing a course that has jobs available but also doing a course that you’ll actually enjoy.”
Mission Australia WA director Jo Sadler said young people accounted for a disproportionate share of casual workers in some of hardest hit industries such as retail and hospitality and many are ineligible for government support.
“With Australia experiencing an unprecedented health crisis as we deal with the current and future impacts of COVID-19, it is crucial we take the time to listen to what young people have to say on issues that affect them, their networks and our nation,” she said.
“Last year we heard that many young people felt that they did not have the avenues to speak up on issues that matter to them and that their voices weren’t being heard.”
The Youth Survey 2020 provides a forum for young people to highlight the issues they think are important today and to give an accurate snap shot into what young people are concerned about and why.
“In 2019, 2,766 young people from Western Australia responded to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey. This year we’re hoping to increase the response rate and are seeking responses from young people across metropolitan, regional and remote locations,” Ms Sadler said.
To take part in the survey visit, www.miss
ionaustralia.com.au/youthsurvey by August 14.