It’s easy to write off young people as immature and ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of adulthood, when you’re bombarded with images of them partying and drinking.
But scratch a little deeper and you soon realise that judging young people by the mostly harmless antics of a few is deeply unfair.
Mission Australia’s 11th annual national Youth Survey – which this year tested the views of 15,000 people aged 15-19 from across the country – found, that in terms of their priorities and values, young Australians most definitely have good heads on their shoulders.
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Parents of young adults everywhere in Sydney hate it when their children go to Kings Cross, the city’s party district. They loathe it.
They’ve got reason to. Every few Sundays local 6pm news bulletins broadcast vision of young people “going wild”, roaming the streets; the occasional fight.
And now a tragedy. Thomas Kelly, 18, was king-hit just walking down the street with a couple of female friends, one of them his new girlfriend, at 10pm on Saturday night. Totally unprovoked. He hit his head on the ground. He died last night.
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As the debate around the best way to tackle negative body image continues to simmer in Australia, it’s worth noting that a major new cross-party parliamentary report in Britain has recommended that all primary and secondary school kids take part in compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons.
Is that what we need in Australia to tackle the scourge of negative body image among children and adolescents?
There’s no question that all young Australians would benefit from engaging in some level of education and formal discussion around body image. But how do we make it meaningful? What role for parents?
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Yesterday, Mission Australia released the results of their 10th National Survey of Young Australians. Among the most reported of their findings was evidence that more young girls than ever before have a problem with body image.
“All the well-meaning efforts to combat the problem have failed,” said Mission Australia spokesperson, Eleri Morgan-Thomas. “More work needs to be done.”
That should not come as a surprise to anybody. Good body image campaigns have failed because so very few people actually have it. Good body image is a myth.
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Mineral water, sparkling wine, sauvignon banc, chardonnay or pinot noir. That was the dilemma I faced last Wednesday night as the guest of FARE, an independent and charitable foundation set up to ten years ago to help prevent the harmful use of alcohol in Australia.
Don’t be afraid to have a drink tonight, urged our generous host. But while I sipped self-consciously on my mineral water I did start to wonder where this night would end up.
After all, as their slogan proudly says, FARE are committed to “changing the way we drink”.
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On Monday, the series finale of Skins aired on SBS. The British television drama has both upset and pleased audiences for its often raw, truthful depiction of teenagers. Unlike many other teen dramas, Skins refuses to show holier-than-now youths, who resist drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll—in this case techno. And while Skins’ characters indulge in activities that would make any parents squirm, it resists glorifying such behaviour.
Now in its fourth season, after gaining a new set of cast members in the third, the show is dealing with some even more confronting issues that are relevant to today’s youths. And just when Skins was doing everything right to get its youthful audience thinking about important subjects, it let us down in its final moments just to create some extra drama.
Last week, one of the characters, Freddie, was bashed to death by his girlfriend, Effy’s, psychologist. Effy had tried to kill herself and was taken to a rehabilitation centre. Her psychologist had become obsessed with her, his techniques made her worse than she was before, and finally his jealousy drove him to kill Freddie.
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To the 100,00-odd, predominately young voters, who courtesy of Get-Up, will be making their first quivering steps towards the polling booth in a couple of weeks - let me apologise on behalf of the two major parties.
They’re just not that into you.
For both Labor and the Coalition, the love is gone for younger voters. In fact, the two major parties seem to have forgotten these voters whose sway at the ballot box last time around was lauded as having helped unseat a decades-old reigning political force in their mad scramble for the “family” vote.
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