OPINION

This Saturday I will cast my first ever vote, so why does it feel so disheartening?

It's my first time voting in the federal election.

I'm excited to have my democratic say, but I'm also frustrated.

Politicians have failed to deliver policies that address the number one issue facing young people today - uncertainty.

The reality is, millennials are stepping into an unknown future.

As young people, we want politicians to hear our opinions too.

As young people, we want politicians to hear our opinions too.

Young people are being skilled for jobs that in the next 20 years will be obsolete. In fact, nearly half of Australian jobs are at risk of automation.

We live in a time of political volatility. No Australian under 30 has ever voted for a prime minister who has lasted a full term.

Our planet is in jeopardy and climate change looms over our future reality.

And, worst of all, Australia lacks a roadmap for its future. It's predicted that by 2050 Australia won't be in the top 20 most economically powerful countries in the world. While France has pledged 1.5 billion euros for developing artificial intelligence, our support for innovation crawls at a comparative snail's pace.

I'm not the only young person that is frustrated by the lack of ambition in this federal election. Visionary and forward-thinking policy has been quickly overshadowed by who can score the best political jabs.

What happens when young people are grappling with an uncertain future and politicians are too busy trying to gain political leverage? Disillusionment.

Young women, in particular, have become dissuaded by politics. In 2017, Plan International surveyed more than 2000 Australian girls and young women aged 10-25-years old about their aspirations for the future. Only 2 per cent of girls aged 10-14 listed politics as a future career option, rising to 5 per cent for girls 15-17 and then dropping to 0 per cent of young women aged 18-25.

It's no wonder, when the young women in this survey were twice as likely to agree female politicians were treated unfairly by the media and talked over by male politicians.

The conduct of candidates in this election certainly hasn't improved the situation. The Liberal candidate for the NSW seat of Paterson, Sachin Josi, said in 2018 that women were less adept at "money matters and other business-related 'stuff'" to justify the pay gap.

One Nation's Hunter candidate, Stuart Bonds, was exposed as saying "the only thing worse than a gay person with power is a woman".

As a young woman interested in government, I have to admit that the thought of putting my hand up for a life in politics is scary. Will I be taken seriously? Or will picked apart for my body, my mannerisms or how I dress?

The reality is, we need young people in politics more than ever. Both major political parties have agreed to support young people, from bolstering mental health services, to first home ownership. But, despite this, neither have provided any real plan to prepare youth for our uncertain future.

So what's the solution? Politicians must really listen to young people. They must take our fears and hopes seriously. We are more than social media scrollers. We're the children of the digital, entrepreneurial age. We're not afraid to push boundaries and take risks. If politicians are struggling with future-proofing Australia, why not genuinely work with young people to create solutions?

It's incredibly disappointing that there is no Youth Advisory Board to the prime minister, despite similar initiatives being implemented in countries such as Canada.

The failure of certain government youth schemes prove youth aren't being properly consulted with. The government's 'Youth Jobs PaTH' scheme promised youth employment but instead, young people were paid $4 an hour and, at the conclusion of the program, half were left without a job.

While Labor has committed to funding the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition - the national youth peak body - there remains far more scope to improve.

Simply put, young people have the capacity to see beyond this election. Our perspectives aren't shaped by party politics, they're shaped by being global citizens.

This year youth of Australia turned out in droves to strike for climate, which was mocked and criticised by many politicians. An astounding 65,000 young Australians registered to vote before the same sex postal survey. I've had the honour of working alongside many incredible young people and am constantly blown away by their passion, ideas for the future and ability to think outside the box.

This election, you might be feeling that politicians aren't creating forward-thinking policies for Australia. As young people, we hear you. And want politicians to hear our opinions too.

This election I'll lodge my vote but I'm still worried about my future.

  • Yasmin Poole is a 20-year-old law student at ANU and a Plan International Australia youth ambassador.

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