Will you use your vote to uphold the voices of those of us who can’t?

Teenagers Azraf Ezaz and Arshia Rana are urging voters to consider issues that will affect young Australians' future when voting in the 2022 federal election. Photo: Australian Electoral Commission.

With the nation about to head to the polls, two young Australians – not yet old enough to vote – appeal to voters to consider a number of issues that will affect their futures. By Azraf Ezaz (aged 17) and Arshia Rana (16).

The concerns of young people are the concerns of tomorrow. So when you consider our opinions, you are safeguarding your own future. As young people who can’t yet vote, we need you to make sure we don’t miss the ride. Here are five key issues to consider on behalf of young Australians when you cast your vote.

Economy

If you’re reading this and wondering, “Why consider that far into the future? There will be another election in three years anyway.” Fair enough. 

But think about this: 2019 was three years ago. Since then, house prices have risen 35% across the eight capital cities of our country. A $1,000,000 home in 2019 would cost $350,000 more today. 

When we enter the workforce, provided we actually earn the median income of $51,000 and save all of it, it will take us six years more just to earn the 35% increase. A million dollars is just a dream. Although this is good for the investment property owner, who will now earn $350,000 more in the selling of the property, there may be nobody in our generation who can afford to own a home. 

So, will the party you vote for consider how young people can put a roof over their heads and if they can ever own that roof?

Environment

Of course the issues you’ve considered up to now while voting will cease to matter if our environment continues to deteriorate, destroying our home, landscape and economy. 

You see, with carbon emissions and general pollution through the roof, the earth’s atmosphere is becoming increasingly contaminated, causing the extinction of species, rising sea levels and ecological imbalance in general. 

We want voters to think of our generation, the one that will inherit the exacerbated issues of today. If the government you elect does not take care of the environment, young people like us will inherit a world where these problems are more severe and irreversible. 

Not to mention the negative impact of climate change on our economy, where ecological damage will begin to incur higher expenses. 

Does the party you’re voting for have a sound carbon emission and pollution policy? Do they plan on investing in cleaner and renewable energy? 

Azraf Ezaz, pictured, wants voters to consider five key issues on behalf of young Australians when casting their ballots. Photo: supplied.

Youth rights

Despite not being able to vote, we are often impacted most by the decisions of our government. Not only are we affected by youth policies, but all decisions made affect us in some way, either through our parents or impacts on our future. 

Does your first preference party have anti-discrimination and harassment policies for schools? Do they ensure the strength of their child-safety practices? 

By considering this you’re playing your part in safeguarding young people against harm and thus ensuring a healthier future for Australia. 

We also want our voices heard and concerns recognised. To uphold the integrity of our democracy, the government must consider the demands of all citizens, even those who can’t vote. 

So it’s important that the party you vote for has programs that allow young people to voice their concerns about decisions and policies. 

Indigenous Australian rights

A third of the Indigenous youth population have to face the criminal justice system, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Forty-nine per cent of the youth in juvenile detention centres are Indigenous. Almost all of these detainments are due to crimes committed by those of low socio-economic backgrounds in remote places. 

If you can help break the cycle, where disadvantage leads to crime, which leads to further disadvantage, you guarantee our generation of Indigenous people a brighter future.

Does the party you will vote for have policies planned to boost Indigenous access to essential services like health and education? 

Like Azraf, article co-author Arshia Rana, pictured, is a member of the Child Wise Youth Advisory Board.

Diversity and inclusion

Statistically, one in five people we know will have a disability. We as a society have the responsibility to ensure every one of these people can be an active member of our communities. 

We need wheelchair accessibility, Auslan interpreters and ensured access to services for those with mental disorders. 

WIll the political party you vote for make sure that those in specialist schools, those with neurodivergent brains and physical impairments, do not fall behind in the future? 

Inclusivity does not just stop there, because almost 30% of our population was born overseas according to the ABS data from 2020. 

This means people among us, our friends and neighbours, speak a variety of languages, celebrate a plethora of holidays and have a diverse range of beliefs. 

Will the government you elect make sure that the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are upheld?

Azraf Ezaz and Arshia Rana are high school students and members of the Child Wise Youth Advisory Board.

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