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Australian Green's Youth Policy Package Released

Greens dominate youth vote
New PowerActive package for youth announced

12 October 2001

Growing Youth Appeal

New analysis released today shows that the Greens are now the most youth-focused party in Australia. Almost 2 in 5 Green voters are first time or young voters.

This mirrors a global trend where the s11 (or 'Battle for Seattle') generation are increasingly turning to the Greens in dozens of countries where they are in Government or have prominence in parliament.

The Greens believe that their core concerns and messages have appeal to young people;
- ecology
- humanitarian idealism
- global concern
- anti-corporate

The most significant demographic in the Green vote is the youngest voters, the 18-24 bracket who dominate s11-type protests. Morgan polls over this year show that young people are turning to the Greens in particularly large numbers in recent weeks, coinciding with the refugee crisis.

Vote Analysis

The youth share of a party's vote is the best measure of how it is positioned electorally. The youth share of the Greens vote is 36.9% nationally. Over 2001 the second place getter has alternated between the ALP and the Democrats.

Analysis of Morgan polls for this year, released by the Greens today, shows that 21.3% of young voters intend to vote Green in the House of Representatives. This is almost as many votes as the Liberal and National Parties combined, who are sitting on 21.9%. The remaining minor parties are left far behind with the Democrats on 10.5%, One Nation on 0.7% and others combined on 4.3%.

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Participation, Parliament and Policy

The Greens have actively sought the participation of young people, here and overseas. In April this year the first Global Young Greens conference was held in Sydney, with 300 participants from 50 countries. Young MPs from national and state parliaments gathered with s11-style activists to discuss the global future and what the Greens should do to represent youth. The Global Young Greens produced policy suggestions which further strengthened the Greens already strong youth policies.

Youth activist hold regular meetings with Greens politicians. Parliamentary 'Disinformation Tours' have been held in the Federal, NSW, Tasmanian and ACT parliaments by Greens youth activists and MPs. These tours expose young people to the machinery of government, offering them access to the press gallery, assistance with lobbying, communications training and information on the legislative process.

The Australian Greens annual conference in August ratified the new youth policy which is being launched today.

PowerActive : a Package for Youth

The Greens believe that the idealism and energy of young people can change the world. The PowerActive package aims to help young people use their power for change through activism and their own self-fulfilment.

Underpinning the whole Greens approach is the idea that young people are successful at managing their lives in an increasingly insecure and ecologically damaged world. Youth do not need policies because of problems created by them; they are not victims, losers, druggies, criminals or any other negative.

The highlights of the PowerActive package for youth are to;

- protect young workers from 'McWages' exploitation
- remove GST from public transport and books
- give teenagers the vote
- repeal mandatory sentancing
- support rural lesbian and gay youth with coming out
- increase funding for public education by $4b to bring Australia up to average OECD levels
- support youth arts
- Regional Youth Advisory Committees
- establish a Commissioner for Children
- decriminalise personal use of cannabis
- replacing detention centres with community based, family-friendly asylum seeker holding centres
- ban all alcohol and tobacco advertising

The package is drawn form the Greens Youth policies launched today but is enhanced by complementary initiatives in other policy packages which will be launched over the campaign, such as Housing, Justice and Education.

The PowerActive package has a strong emphasis on rights and on youth activism and culture. Young people have made clear to the Greens that these two sides of life cannot be divorced.

On the rights front young people require better legal protection of their rights: to earn a fair wage, to practice their sexuality, to be respected by the law and to vote as young as 16 if they wish.

On the culture front young people demand the freedom and resources to have their voice heard. The s11 culture of Internet activism and media intervention should be encouraged. Youth culture and the arts will be the source of new ways for young people to take charge of their lives and deal with threats posed by drug dependency, homelessness and alienation.

National Policy - Young people
The Australian Greens believe the key issues for Australia’s young people are:
a) access to secure, affordable and appropriate long term housing;
b) meaningful work and a competency based wage system;
c) access to education and training;
d) a clean and healthy environment;
e) access to diverse cultural and recreational facilities;
f) access to reliable and affordable transport;
g) access to a living environment which is free from the threat of physical or emotional abuse or discrimination of any kind; and
h) access to health services which focus on the social, economic and environmental factors that impact on the lives of young people.
Information about services available to young people must be accessible and comprehensible.
The Australian Greens oppose all forms of ageism, and support initiatives to counter this, including public education and affirmative action.
Youth interests must be included in public policy decision-making, and this requires greater input from young people themselves.
Recognising that young people have a positive contribution to make to society, the Australian Greens support representation from young people at all levels of government. Young people must not only play a central role in formulating those policies which affect them, but they should be included more widely in general policy formulation.
The Australian Greens will:
a) facilitate processes which allow young people to express their needs and aspirations at all levels of government, as well as in their own communities;
b) listen to young people through regionally based Youth Advisory Committees comprising representative groups of young people with a range of interests and skills, who will meet to discuss ideas, initiatives and solutions to problems, as well as provide feedback and advice on government programmes. These Advisory Councils will have input at both state and national levels, to assist with greater coordination of national, state and local initiatives;
c) support transferring the Youth Bureau to the Prime Minister’s Department, to ensure greater coordination in youth policy formulation; and
d) support the right of people from the age of 16 years to vote and to hold public office, in recognition of the increasing awareness of and responsibility towards current issues of young people.
Short Term Targets

a) Unemployment

The Australian Greens will work towards the implementation of a national employment strategy for young people, to be administered at a local level with a focus on facilitating community development.
Local employment committees will be established. They will provide training, financial support and the development of job opportunities which address needs within local communities and promote green jobs.
The Australian Greens support local employment initiatives which foster ideas through facilitation and network building as a complement to initiatives such as the now defunct LEAP program.
The Australian Greens will work to reintroduce a improved version of the LEAP scheme in consultation with young people.
The Australian Greens support increased employment and education opportunities, including rental assistance, for disadvantaged young people, including youth in rural or remote areas.
The Australian Greens support greater representation of young people on regional economic organisations and greater recognition of community-based organisations which generate environmentally and socially useful employment opportunities.
All labour market and training programmes must be developed in consultation with young people and should not be discriminatory on any grounds, including age.

b) Education

Our education system must be able to provide the intellectual and social skills necessary for confronting the social and environmental problems now facing Australia. The skills and knowledge of indigenous as well as non-indigenous ancestry and culture must be shared with our young people to give them an understanding of the basic solutions to our cultural crisis.
The Australian Greens are committed to:
a) diverse and inclusive curricula at the school level;
b) supportive school environments that cater for social and academic development and raise self-esteem;
c) support for early intervention programmes;
d) more flexible pathways to employment and training;
e) increased emphasis on training in life skills;
f) ensuring training programmes are relevant and accessible, and that they are connected to ongoing employment opportunities; and
g) civics education to enable greater understanding of and participation in all spheres of government.

The Australian Greens support the senior college system already operating in some states and territories to encourage greater autonomy among upper secondary students.
(see also policy: Education)

c) Youth Justice

The recognition of young people’s issues and needs is inadequate in Australia’s legal system. Young people often feel regulated by the law but without adequate access to and support from the legal system or their legal rights. Young people should be protected from violence, discrimination and exploitation.
The Australian Greens support:
a) establishing a Children’s Bureau including a Commissioner for Children and a Children’s Ombudsperson; and
b) the development of a Children and Youth Justice Strategy which would include community legal education and an advocacy programme for young people.

d) Health

There are many serious health issues facing young people in Australia. Good health is closely connected to lifestyle. While young people should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own health, the Australian Greens recognise that physical and emotional wellbeing is often compromised by inadequate access to appropriate housing, income support, meaningful work, creative or recreational opportunities as well as by degradation of the environment.
An integrated and holistic approach to health policy is necessary. In policy: Health, more specific proposals are presented.
Recognising the urgency of the problem, the Australian Greens support the development of strategies to deal with youth suicide and mental health problems among young people.
The Australian Greens also support increased HIV/AIDS education and more preventive programmes targeted to young people with eating disorders.

e) Housing

The number of homeless youth in Australia is increasing and projections suggest this situation will worsen in the future. Adequate housing and especially secure long term housing are fundamental to young people working towards their chosen lifestyle. The Australian Greens address this problem in policy: Housing and Urban Planning.
The Australian Greens support facilitation of community housing and housing cooperatives in urban areas as a means to servicing the young homeless.
The Australian Greens support co-housing and other forms of multiple occupancy.
Young people should be involved in the planning and development of housing appropriate to their needs.

f) The Environment

Young people have a clear interest and concern in the wellbeing of the planet. Respect for the environment is essential to the security and wellbeing of future generations.
The Australian Greens support community-based employment, housing and cultural activities which increase the quality of life and empower young people without consuming vast amounts of resources and generating excessive waste.
The Australian Greens encourage government support and facilitation of innovative environmental projects including urban community farms and gardens, alternative housing construction and design, energy conservation and alternative energy generation, recycling and secondary resource management.


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