With the upcoming federal plebiscite on marriage equality, the YMCA is urging young people to ensure their voices are heard.
Young people aged 18 to 25 remain the most underrepresented demographic on the electoral roll with 18% of that age group not enrolled to vote, and this increases to 50% for 18 year olds.
With voting papers to be mailed to individuals currently on the electoral roll at 12 September, unless young people enrol with the AEC by 24 August, they may miss out on the opportunity to vote. Given that a postal plebiscite will be non-compulsory this may make young voter turnout even more difficult, particularly as many young people change their residential address more frequently than older voters.
To ensure you are enrolled, please check via the AEC website at http://www.aec.gov.au/
Research by the YMCA earlier this year revealed (74%) of Australians aged 13 – 22 don’t believe those in power are making the best decisions possible for the future of young people.
“The politicians of Australia are again shutting their ears to the voices and needs of young people on the issues that matter to them,” said YMCA Australia CEO Melinda Crole.
Of the issues most important to Australia’s youth that they feel they aren’t being heard on, 86% felt unheard regarding marriage equality. These findings were a key reason behind the YMCA taking such a passionate public stance through its reinterpretation of the Village People song with Boy George’s cover of YMCA.
“Equally, we’re incredibly concerned about the effect an anti-marriage equality campaign could have on the mental health of young Australians,” continued Melinda.
Research on the impact of the 2015 Irish referendum showed 80% of people felt upset by campaign materials, and 75% reported that the campaign had a negative impact on young people and those from same sex parented families (Dane et al 2016). During this time, some young people reported feeling so anxious they could not leave their homes.
“Young people have overwhelmingly told us that their voices are not being given a say in decisions made by governments, institutions and employers that affect their lives. A plebiscite allowing little time to enrol young people to vote and the inevitable negative campaigning is just another example of this,” continued Melinda.
If you are a young person, or know a young people who may not be enrolled, please sure their details are lodged with the AEC by 24 August, 2017.