AYAC’s Policy Platform clearly articulates our views on key issues affecting the rights and interests of young people and the youth sector that supports them. Each position statement emphasises the human rights of young people, in particular the right of young people to have genuine and meaningful input into the making of decisions that affect them. The interests of young people facing extra barriers to inclusion are also promoted. Each statement encourages sustainable solutions, best practice and evidence-based approaches, and innovative strategies.
Our Policy Platform is a “living” document and is reviewed regularly via ongoing consultations with members to ensure that AYAC’s policy positions remain current. We welcome your feedback. Download the complete Policy Platform in PDF (5 mb) or in Plain Text (3kb)
The Policy Platform aims to:
- Summarise the key policy issues affecting young people and youth affairs
- Guide the day-to-day policy and advocacy work of AYAC
- Advise governments, the media and other stakeholders on AYAC’s positions on key policy matters relevant to young people
The Youth Sector
The youth sector has a considerable and positive impact in the lives of young people in Australia and AYAC strongly values the work performed by youth workers, organisations and other professionals committed to the rights and needs of young people. We are committed to supporting the youth sector to ensure that it is unified, well resourced and professional.
Youth Participation and Political Engagement
Young people make significant contributions to society. Their issues and interests are important and they have the most to gain when it comes to most policy reforms. AYAC is committed to seeing young people have access to mechanisms that allow them to be directly engaged in decisions about issues that affect their rights and interests, and on which they have opinions. When it comes to youth participation and political engagement, young people are energetic and active.
Young People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
Multiculturalism is a good news story for Australia. AYAC celebrates Australia’s cultural and religious diversity as strengths, and affirms the importance of a vibrant multiculturalism to our national identity.AYAC also recognises the strengths, experiences and achievements of young people from multicultural backgrounds, however, the challenges of settlement and negotiating cultural dislocation can put enormous pressures on newly arrived youth.
Rural and Remote Young People
Growing up in a rural or remote area can be a wonderful experience, and young people who live in these areas have great strengths, capacity and resilience. However, AYAC acknowledges that there are huge gaps when it comes to services for remote communities – such as education, housing, employment, mental health, and disability support – and AYAC is committed to working with young people and youth workers to maximise their opportunities.
AYAC recognises that good mental health is a whole-of-community responsibility, and people with mental illness and their families and carers are to be supported to live full and rewarding lives. The current mainstream mental health system is not well-designed or resourced to address young people’s mental health issues. Young people in rural areas, in particular, have difficulties in accessing appropriate services, with many services stretched to capacity (if there are any youth-friendly services at all).
Evidence shows that young people are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators yet they are more likely to be unfairly portrayed as a threat to the general public. The majority of young people are living successful lives untouched by the justice system. Young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are disproportionately represented in the legal system.
AYAC is committed to ensuring all young people get a fair chance to responsibly prepare for their future without being put at further risk of extreme hardship. In the absence of full employment in Australia, adequate income support does not act as a disincentive to work or study and can enable young people to move towards independence. When young people are looking for work or undertaking study, they all need an adequate income to effectively navigate this transition and many will require government assistance.
Housing and Homelessness
Young people aged 12 to 24 have the highest rate of homelessness of any group in Australia with 43% of the Australian homeless population under the age of 25. While some are rough sleepers, much youth homelessness is invisible with young people ‘couch surfing’ or living in boarding houses or emergency accommodation.
Health and Wellbeing
Good health for young people requires a holistic approach that aims to support and promote their physical, emotional, mental, social and sexual wellness. AYAC affirms that significant caring relationships and connectedness, a sense of spirituality, access to economic resources as well as low family stress, are all critically important factors affecting the health of young people.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
AYAC is committed to ending the stigma and discrimination against people due to their actual or assumed sexual orientation. We want an Australia where every young person can feel safe and accepted, one that values and respects sexual diversity.While AYAC recognises that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer/Questioning (GLBTIQ) is the most used terminology, AYAC refers to these groups as Same Sex Attracted and Sex and Gender Diverse (SSASGD), as it’s focus is on sexual practices rather than sexual identities.
AYAC acknowledges that broad changes in today’s labour market offer both challenges and opportunities to young people, and require radically new ways of preparing young people for employment. AYAC is strongly committed to seeing young people able to access appropriate and stable employment that meets their needs and lets them remain in their own communities.
Young people have never been so willing to engage with education, with numbers leaving school at the minimum age falling sharply in recent years. Increasingly, young people are expected to remain in education and beyond, and tertiary education has been has never been accessed by so many young people. However, AYAC acknowledges that modern schooling needs to meet the distinctive needs of young people disengaged from traditional delivery methods.
Young people with disabilities are often excluded from employment and education, and often miss out on meaningful opportunities for participation in social and community life. The disadvantage of those living with disability is also compounded by the additional disadvantage of their youth.
Child Protection and Out-of-Home Care
AYAC is committed to seeing more flexible, collaborative and responsive services, at key points, such as when young people leave out-of-home care or come into the juvenile justice system. AYAC recognises that their situations are complex and services – including those for homelessness and mental health – need to work together.
Bullying is a very common problem facing young people and can have a damaging effect on a young person’s wellbeing. Bullying and harassment does not just happen in school but it also affects young people at home, on public transport, and in the workplace. It can also happen online on social media sites and via mobile phones (however, AYAC recognises that the overall impact of technology on the lives of young people is overwhelmingly positive).
Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and young people
AYAC belives that rather than sensationalising and stigmatising young drug and alcohol users, the focus should be on preventing andminimising drug-related harms – especially mental and physical health problems, personal and family violence, andinvolvement with the criminal justice system. AYAC is particularly concerned with young people receiving criminalconvictions for minor drug offences, such as occasionally smoking cannabis that creates very little harm to themselves or toother people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People
AYAC is working to see the removal of inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young Australians, which has resulted from a legacy of colonisation and injustice. AYAC proudly celebrates and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture and is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership and success.
Technology and Cyber-saftey
The use of digital technology is now a vital part of the lives of young people. New online and mobile technologies helps young people seek information, test boundaries, proclaim their opinions, experiment with relationships, volunteer their energies, build community, challenge adult norms and develop their identities – all positive and enriching experiences for young people.
Around 5% of Australian young people under the age of 25 regularly care for a family member with an illness, a disability, a mental illness or an alcohol or drug dependency. AYAC recognises the considerable contribu>ons that young carers make in the community. A young carer may assist with domes>c tasks, personal care, emo>onal care, sibling care or even financial care. Young people’s unpaid care is oCen underes>mated and many young carers are ‘hidden’. That is, they do not iden>fy themselves as carers nor use formal services for carers, par>cularly in situa>ons involving mental illness, or drugs and alcohol.