Youth Action welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Select Committee on Cost of Living. This submission is grounded in the voices and lived experiences of young people across New South Wales who we have heard from through our consultations.
The past three years have been tough for young people in NSW, with the pandemic, fires and floods and ongoing intergenerational inequity. The combination of these events has seen young people fall further behind. These events have caused increased poverty and housing insecurity, homelessness, disengagement from education and an increase in mental health issues. The cost-of-living crisis has compounded these issues and reduced quality of life for many young people.
In the lead up to the March 2023 state election in NSW, Youth Action asked over 1000 young people about the top issues that would influence their vote. Cost of living proved the biggest issue, with 76% of young people selecting it as one of their top three issues. When asked to select their top three cost of living issues, participants selected cost of food and groceries (72%), cost of rent (70%) and utilities including gas and electricity (39%).
It is important for future solutions to take into account the particular challenges that the cost-of-living crisis presents for young people. In particular, young people have told us that they need action on the cost of daily expenses like groceries and petrol, the cost of learning to drive and obtaining a licence, the cost of transport, making housing affordable and better access to bulkbilled health and mental health services.