Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

A snaphot of Australian youth

A snapshot of Australian youth reveals a vast majority are generally happy, healthy and working or studying full time, Minister for Community Services, Senator Nigel Scullion said today.

While launching the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Young Australians: Their Health and Wellbeing 2007, Senator Scullion said the information is a valuable resource for understanding the social, economic and health circumstances of young Australians aged 12 to 24.

‘The report found most young people are faring well. It’s particularly pleasing to see a substantial increase in the education retention rate to Year 12 over the last 20 years,’ Senator Scullion said.

‘This correlates with the overall decline in unemployment rates for young people during the previous decade which is a real reflection of the economic prosperity being enjoyed right across the country under the Australian Government.

‘I do note the report found that Indigenous young people and those from rural and remote areas are identified as experiencing specific concerns. A link has also been established between health and wellbeing and socio-economic status.

‘The report found that less than half of our young Australians eat enough vegetables, something most parents would already know. An increase in obesity is a concern with the report finding 25 per cent of young people fall into the category are overweight or obese.

‘Mental health and homelessness continue to be significant concerns. The report found young people comprise one third of those assisted by agencies funded under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) to which the Australian Government has allocated $932 million over five years.

‘Governments will be advised by the information in the report, and the Australian Government, for its part, is committed to improving the lives of young people.

‘In the 2007-08 Budget, the Government has introduced a wide range of measures which further advance and consolidate initiatives to improve young people’s health, wellbeing and education and training options.

‘Ultimately, successful strategies to address the AIHW report’s concerns can only be implemented through the co-operation of all levels of governments, communities and families.

‘The report will be of major interest to government policy makers, the youth sector, researchers and the Australian public,’ Senator Scullion said.