IF YOU were to ask any member of the community their thoughts on the city’s youth, you are sure to get a mix of responses.
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Some may go as far as referring to Ballarat’s youths as lazy, delinquents and in rare circumstances, a lost hope.
But there are many things about the city’s youths, who make up almost a fifth of the population, people often forget about.
Some facts that come as a surprise to many are the number of youths involved in volunteer work.
Almost 20 per cent of the city’s youths aged between 15-24 are involved in some sort of volunteer work – that’s higher than the state average of 15.5 per cent.
Others have no idea Ballarat has 150 members in The Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
But fewer people know that more young people living in Ballarat feel they have a low attachment to their community than the state average, and that despite believing they have the capacity to be involved in decision making processes, they feel accommodating the voice of young people could be strengthened.
After speaking with the people who work with the city’s youth every day, it is evident these youths have plenty to offer and are not afraid to try their hardest to ensure the city’s future is strong.
Education engagement and placement coordinator at Highlands Local Learning and Employment Network (HLLEN) Brendan O’Connell said many youths were only recognised for their sporting and entertainment achievements, while others making significant contributions in society were often only known to a small number of people.
“It’s (recognising sporting and entertainment achievements) probably a little archaic now,” he said.
Mr O’Connell said many adults failed to see the contributions and progress young people made in every day life.
As one example, he said many young people who are involved in online gaming are forming part of globalisation - something many adults neglect to see the effects of.
“What people think is that it’s antisocial, but it’s very social,” he said.
“You have young people communicating with others in places like America and Germany.
“These people are more likely to get involved in activism. Most people see that as slacktivism because it is online.”
With one in four people working in retail in Ballarat, many who are young, he said it also can’t be forgotten youths are also contributing to the local economy.
“Sometimes the views of this generation are harsh,” he said.
“But involving young people is a good thing. Even in the most desperate young people … they have a sense of contribution.”
Mr O’Connell said there were issues deeper than many see on the surface that young people face on a day to day basis.
He said on average it took a young person 4.7 years to gain full time employment after studying.
“A lot of people think young people sit around doing nothing, but it’s a turbulent economic environment (for youths),” he said.
“There is no security.”
He said other barriers for young people were the changing expectations from employers.
“It’s most likely in the future you will be selling yourself like an ebay seller, they almost have to be an entrepreneur,” Mr O’Connell said.
He said mental health was also a significant barrier to education, but there were promising elements with the current generation of youths the first to have a real understanding of what mental health is.
“They are very in touch with things that are the real issues.”
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