Claire, 19, TAS

“I wish the government understood the meaning of financial security to young people. I wish the government understood that by removing penalty rates, limiting access to financial support and the casualisation of the workforce reduces the capacity for young people to contribute meaningfully in their communities.

Having access to services like Centrelink has allowed me to study, live out of home and gain my own sense of independence. It has meant I’ve been able to volunteer and dedicate a considerable amount of time to the things I love and the causes I care about, fields I hope to someday have a career in. The casualisation of the workforce means jobs – in retail, hospitality and the service industry, for example, are insecure. These jobs are predominantly filled by young people; young people with families, young people with bills to pay, young people with educational needs and costs. I wish the government knew that young people are able and willing to work and will work hard to realise their aspirations, through paid and unpaid work. Having recently been unemployed, I have spent many hours thinking about my own financial security, how we stay afloat when we can be cut off from paid employment. I wish the government knew that young people are not dispensable. Casual work is good when you’ve got it but it also means constantly having to prove yourself worthy enough for the job beyond just having an appropriate skill set. Part time work is no longer a norm. When you don’t have it, it is constant planning, withdrawal and wondering what the next thing might be, or if you’re even good enough for the next thing.

Through recognising that the aspirations of young people are enduring, beyond a casual job at a local cafe, beyond an unpaid internship and beyond all barriers that will manifest inevitably in all of our lives, the government can seek to invest and sustainably support the economic future of this country. Providing for the young people of Australia through a basic, means tested income and penalty rates allows us to participate and explore, and grow through our exploration. These measures are a hand up, not a hand out.”