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Renewing Australia’s promise: will young Australians be better off than their parents?

10 Nov 2014

Examines whether the current generation of young people will be better or worse off than their parents.


Youth policy is too often relegated to the edge of the public discourse. It is often considered in isolation, as a niche policy area, separate to the big economic and social challenges facing the ‘adult’ nation.

The Foundation for Young Australians is looking to close that gap. We want to bring young people into the centre of the national discussion of Australia’s long-term challenges because, after all, young people are the ones who will inherit those challenges. The more we invest in young people today, the better equipped they will be to take Australia forward.

With this report and the broader Unlimited Potential program we aim to start a national conversation about how we can maximise the potential of young Australians. The first step is to define the challenges they face today. Not a simplistic picture based on anecdote, but actually look at how young people are doing in terms of incomes, health, education, employment and housing.

The Renewing Australia’s Promise report evaluates the well-being of Australia’s young people from a generational perspective - benchmarking young Australians against their parents at the same stage of life. This approach avoids the problems of international comparison across very different countries. And it escapes the often unhelpful comparison of age-cohorts at different stages of life.

This generational perspective is also important because it aligns to the over-arching aim of youth policy. That objective is the idea that each generation should leave behind a better nation for the next. Generational progress is a goal that all Australians can agree on.

This report shows that we have more work to do before we can be confident that this objective will be realised. Young people have many advantages over their parents, but they also face many hurdles that their parents did not.

This report should be read as a contribution to the discussion of policies that will help young people overcome these hurdles to achieve the successful and prosperous lives that are the promise of any generation to the next.

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