10 AUGUST 2017
A plebiscite to determine the fate of marriage equality in Australia could damage young people’s mental health, as well as exclude their voice if they are not enrolled to vote within the next two weeks.
“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 CEO Melinda Crole.
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.
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 sec 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.
Young people are invited to visit whynot.org.au to send those in power a digital letter on the issue that matters most to them, including marriage equality and urged to enrol to vote with the Australian Electoral Commission by 24th August at. www.aec.gov.au to ensure their voices are heard.
In the 2016 Federal Election nearly 350,000 or 50% of 18 year olds were not enrolled to vote. 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.
With voting papers to be mailed to individuals currently on the electoral roll at September 12, unless young people enrol with the AEC in the next 2 weeks 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.
About YMCA in Australia The YMCA in Australia serves in over 700 communities, offering a wide range of activities from gyms and swimming centres to early learning, school holiday programs, camping, sports, disability, youth services and leadership programs, all united by a shared belief in the power of inspired young people.
- Young people of the YMCA are available for comment
- Melinda Crole, National CEO of YMCA Australia
For interviews please contact:
Elise Parker, Be Counsel, 0417 383 469
Dianne McDonald, Executive Manager Communications YMCA Australia, 0412 858 556