The cost of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still being counted in Australia. It is a process likely to continue for some time, with many in the Youth Work field fearing long-term impacts on children and young people will not be evident for years – even decades.
What coronavirus has already cost young people
Young people in Australia (those aged between 12-25) are facing previously unimagined hardships beyond the health implications of coronavirus. Financial stress piled on top of worrying labour market figures points to a very uncertain future for thousands of young people.
Who is most at risk?
The Grattan Institute estimated up to 40% of employed teenagers would lose their jobs due to the pandemic, with people in their 20’s the next most likely group to be affected. The figures follow international trends, suggesting a wave of youth unemployment that is still yet to break on Australian shores.
- More than 750,000 young people in the UK have claimed unemployment benefits since March
- Youth unemployment in the US rose from 10.3% in March to 27.4% in April
- 1 in 6 young people in China have stopped working
Why Youth Workers are worried about the next generation
While the unemployment situation currently unraveling is worrying, the long-term impact on children who are still years from graduating high school or trying to find work is still unknown.
Hundreds of thousands of parents are unemployed. The economy has taken (and continues to take) a battering. Schools, childcare centres and playgroups have been closed for months. Studies show that disadvantaged children face a tougher road, so these kinds of economic impacts can have long-ranging effects.
- 1 in 3 disadvantaged children do not meet key development milestones in the first year of school
- Almost 60% do not graduate high school
- 40% of students were disengaged from education before the pandemic
- Fears for learning decline with the move to online classrooms
The good news for Youth Work
Thankfully, there is optimism among the alarming statistics. The Federal Government has already invested more than $1 billion into healthcare that will benefit young people during the COVID-19 fallout.
Plus, in June the Government announced a further $24 million boost for youth mental health, with a goal of long-term service continuity.
Youth Workers play a vital role in safeguarding and supporting young people with mental health issues, as well as those experiencing poverty and domestic violence. The hope is that this important industry continues to receive the support it needs, as well as attracting empathetic, dedicated, and talented individuals to deliver those crucial services.