Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 3057 ..
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5.10): I would like to speak to Mr Pettersson’s motion in my capacity as the ACT Greens spokesperson for young people and as this Assembly’s youngest member. Young people are active members of our society. Their experiences, voices, concerns and needs require strong representation in this place. I thank Mr Pettersson for this motion and I thank Minister Davidson for her significant advocacy and tenacity in her work to secure so much more funding and so much more work in the youth mental health space. It speaks to the credit that the ACT Labor Party gives to the ACT Greens that the mantle of mental health minister was handed from one Greens minister to another. This is at the core of the work that we do in this place.
Young people have been on the front lines of this pandemic. The September 2021 YourSay panel survey suggested that the self-rated mental health of the community had again fallen, with more than four in 10 Canberrans rating their mental health as fair or poor. This result is more pronounced for younger Canberrans.
Working in retail, hospitality or the gig economy—all industries I have been proud to work in over the last decade, before my election to this place—young people in our service industries have continued to work hard to keep businesses running, people fed, packages sent and their loved ones cared for.
Unsurprisingly, because young people work in these industries, young people have also been disproportionately impacted by lockdowns, facing job losses and cuts in their hours. These losses are compounded for young people, most of whom do not have savings, and many of whom live in unstable accommodation arrangements. A young person cannot draw down the equity of their mortgage and take advantage of rising house prices. In fact, it is young people who stand to lose most in the face of that changing housing market.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in May 2020 just over one in four, or 28 per cent, of young people aged 18 to 24 reported not being able to pay their rent or their mortgage on time in the previous three months. This compares with 15 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over. COVID-19 has, if nothing else, shown us that the federal government have the means to bring an end to poverty. It has shown us that they possess the mechanisms to create a fairer and more just world for everybody.
As we discussed earlier this week, we anticipate that the federal government’s cutting of all COVID-19 financial hardship payments in just a few weeks time will have a profound effect on young people. I will take this opportunity to let young people in our community know that there are services and supports for them, including food vouchers. While the Morrison government leaves you behind, my office and my phone number are always available to you.
Ending pandemic financial supports will disproportionately affect young people nationwide and here in the ACT. We have already seen how this botched COVID-19 response from the federal government has disproportionately affected young people. The slow vaccine rollout has rendered young people fearful of getting COVID-19 in