Coping with stress is the top issue of personal concern for young people in Ballarat, according to a youth survey.
The Mission Australia Youth Survey results show more than half of survey participants aged 15 to 19 in Ballarat were extremely or very concerned about coping with stress in 2019.
Close to four in 10 reported feeling extremely or very concerned about mental health, which was also reported as the second most important issue in Australia.
"Young people are very much aware of their own mental health and they can see it is a predominant issue here in Ballarat and right across Australia," Mission Australia Victoria state leader Michele Leonard said.
The environment was reported as the most important issue in Australia by young people in Ballarat .
Young people's concerns must be heeded when forming policies that affect their lives and their futures.Michele Leonard, Mission Australia Victoria state leader
Survey results showed more 63 per cent of Ballarat survey respondents felt they never have a say in public affairs.
Ms Leonard said feeling overlooked was perhaps inspiring young people to look for other ways to be heard, such as climate strikes.
"The growing public dialogue and experience of issues, such as climate change concern, extreme weather events, bushfires and drought, are clearly affecting young people's view of the world," she said.
"It's important that all young people have opportunities and forums available to them so they can share their voice and shape public affairs and policy.
"Young people's concerns must be heeded when forming policies that affect their lives and their futures.
"It's also vital that young people are part of the design of programs or services for young people. They are, after all, the experts in what works best to address their needs or concerns."
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The survey also asked young people whether they had experienced bullying.
Three in 10 young people reported they had been bullied in the past 12 months and of those, five in six said it took place at school, TAFE or university and one third said it had been online.
Ms Leonard said the level of bullying reported was concerning and unacceptable.
"Bullying can cause and intensify mental health concerns, which can have potentially harmful and lasting effects on the lives of young people," she said.
"These findings indicate that there is clearly a pressing need for better investment in programs and initiatives that promote mental health and well-being and combat bullying.
"A greater focus on prevention and early intervention is also needed. By investing in programs that are proven to work, young people will have a better chance of reaching their potential."
The Youth Survey was completed by 354 young people in Ballarat and 25,000 young people in Australia.
The results of the Youth Survey are shared with governments, non-government organisations, schools and social commentators to inform the debate around the circumstances of young people in Australia and to support the development of policies, services and programs that have the needs of young people at their core.
Mission Australia's Youth Survey 2020 will be open in late March to all young people living in Australia aged 15-19 years old. The survey will close mid-2020, with results to be released in November. Visit www.missionaustralia.com.au/youthsurvey.
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