Young Workers Treated Poorly, Fear Being Ripped Off: ACTU

Image result for young worker exploitation

Many young workers are treated poorly, receive no training and are concerned they are not being paid properly, according to research commissioned by unions.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the survey of more than 500 workers aged 18 to 24 painted a “disturbing picture of youth ­employment’’.

Half of the employees surveyed for the ACTU by QDOS Research complained they were treated poorly by their managers, while 56 per cent said they had not ­received training.

A majority of the workers were concerned about employment conditions and whether they were being paid the correct amount. ­Almost two-thirds felt they did not have any kind of career progression. Ms Kearney used the survey ­results to renew the union movement’s push to have the federal government commit more funds to training.

“The results showed that many young working people have major concerns, including being treated badly by management, no access to training or development, and ­issues with getting regular work and pay,’’ she said.

She highlighted one finding that 65 per cent of employees said they wanted to improve their skills and professional development.

“The federal government needs to invest in young people through education and training,’’ she said.

“Employers also need to be held responsible for paying young ­people the right wages, their penalty rates, super and providing ­adequate on-the-job training.”

Almost 70 per cent of the workers surveyed said they did not have a problem in relation to being ­unfairly sacked. However, 13 per cent regarded unfair dismissal as a big problem.

More than two-thirds of ­employees questioned said they did not have a problem being paid their correct superannuation ­entitlements, although about one-quarter felt it was an issue.

Rostering issues were also ­regarded as a problem by a majority of the workers.


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Is Television Failing Us Young People?

Image result for television negative

Everyone at this year’s Edinburgh International Television Festival was expecting Vice chief executive Shane Smith to ruffle a few feathers when he gave the annual MacTaggart lecture on Wednesday evening, but few were prepared to be quite so ruffled.

In a rambling speech interrupted by references to drinking, drug taking, becoming director general of the BBC – and, at one point, a moth landing on his head – the boss of the digital media empire lambasted broadcasters for neglecting the interests and needs of the world’s youth.

The TV industry has been aware it has something of a youth problem for years, but Smith’s speech has pushed the issue centre stage. The hyperbolic, confrontational language he used has re-energised the debate, and many have taken umbrage at a North American upstart coming to Scotland to tell UK broadcasting it’s out of touch. It’s not hard to see why.


“Now the baby boomers have had a stranglehold on media and advertising for an entire generation,” he told the assembled producers, TV bosses and journalists at the Edinburgh Playhouse. “That stranglehold is finally being broken by a highly educated, ethnically diverse, global thinking, hard-to-reach generation. And media is having a hard time adapting to this rapid change.”

Topics such as climate change or LGBT issues that young people care about are covered rarely if at all, he said, because the people making TV are making it about the things that interest them. “It’s a different market and it consumes media in a different way. It can’t be advertised to traditionally and it wants media to be specific only to them. This is hard for baby boomers to get their heads around. You have a lot of baby boomer executives saying ‘I don’t know, put a skateboard in it’. There is no easy solution.

“Because of that it changed everything. Everyone said young people don’t care about news [and] they sure as hell don’t care about international [news]. Bullshit. They care. But they don’t like the way it’s been portrayed up until now. This is a huge white space.”

The following day the TV bosses of Britain’s biggest broadcasters got their chance to respond, and their central argument was that while Smith might be right about the US, the UK was a different kettle of fish. “In America, it still feels like making that content is really radical and revolutionary,” said BBC director of content Charlotte Moore. “Networks there do not show stuff about climate change, about women. It’s a good rallying cry … but it shows us how precious what we have in the UK is.”

Sky’s managing director of content Gary Davey said Smith had missed the point. “We all have to acknowledge that we probably need to encourage more young people to be in the creative process,” he said. “But I think we’re already doing a lot of what he’s advocating …. We have a fantastic diversity of channel types and programme types … It’s a fantastic breadth of choice. We are effectively servicing lots of target groups.”

Asked whether Smith was “a genuine disrupter or emperor’s new clothes”, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo was less diplomatic, saying he was “trying not to use the word ‘odious’”, and was met with a round of amused applause.

Channel 5’s director of programmes Ben Frow (who had skipped Smith’s speech altogether) made a telling intervention on the topic of sex on TV to justify a show that debuted at the start of the century. “Kids like sex and confrontation, and Big Brother has both.” And while Moore said it was patronising to say the young are only interested in sex, her list of shows that get the youth vote – including The Great British Bake Off, The Apprentice, and programmes about Brexit – did not suggest a revolutionary approach to the audience.

Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s chief creative officer, later added there was a danger of creating a “cult of youth” and “demonising” old people. “It’s OK to make shows for people over 34. We are at risk of over-correcting.”

Broadcasters here can point to their own successes and the UK’s diverse range of programming. Yet for all the pride in good shows dealing with important issues, the stats suggest young people are paying less and less attention to it. Ofcom’s Communications Market Report published earlier this month showed the average British person watches almost two-thirds of their video diet as live TV, and with recorded TV included that rises to almost 80%. Yet live viewing drops to little more than a third for 16- to 24-year-olds and less than half when recorded is thrown in. Almost 40% of their time is spent with free or paid on-demand video and, of course, short video clips of the kind you find on YouTube.

Research by Enders Analysis commissioned by former Channel 4 executive Liz Warner, who helped launch Big Brother, paints an even bleaker picture for the leading TV executives who gathered in Edinburgh. Enders found that the average age of viewers of BBC1 and BBC2 is 62, while on ITV it is 60 and on Channel 5 it is 58. On Channel 4, the average age is 55 and on “youth” channel E4, it dips to 42, which is also the average age of the UK population.

In her Bafta lecture last month, titled TV Is Old and Boring, Warner warned of a danger – losing a generation – remarkably similar to the one described by Smith. She said that TV was rehashing old ideas, failing to take risks and becoming a less appealing place for young people to work. “We have failed to engage with a whole generation of digital talent, the younger generation are not switching on, television is failing the young.” Unlike Smith, though, she wasn’t talking from a background of US television, but from a career firmly rooted in the UK. Her warning was stark. “It’s got beyond being anecdotal and I think we’re facing a creative chasm and a crisis.”

Smith’s message, and certainly Smith himself, may not have gone down well with his audience in Edinburgh. But he’s not the only one worried about whether TV is doing enough to make sure it offers a younger generation of viewers what they want.


BBC3 remains central to the BBC’s attempts to reach young people despite going online only seven months ago, but a recent survey by Thinkbox showing the corporation has seen an 18% fall in its youth audience since the linear channel’s closure has raised questions about the move.

In the post-MacTaggart interview at the Edinburgh TV Festival Vice’s Shane Smith said closing the channel was a mistake.

“I don’t know I would have closed [BBC3] down. I think I would have waited a little bit. I know the [BBC’s] mandate is ‘we’ve got to get more millennials, get online’, but if you had an asset that’s that good, that’s beautiful.”

At Edinburgh, BBC3 unveiled three new commissions about the US that are the kind of shows Vice itself might make, including a documentary fronted by Angela Scanlon called Trump’s Youngest Superfans and a Reggie Yates programme on gun crime in Chicago.

BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh told the festival that the short period covered by the survey meant people shouldn’t draw strong conclusions.

“It’s really dangerous to start measuring figures over a six-month period and extrapolate.”

Kavanagh also pointed out that BBC3 long-form content eventually airs on BBC1 and BBC2, and said Vice’s decision to go the other way and launch on TV was motivated by a desire to sell more ads. He also agreed with other executives at the festival that Smith’s criticism of TV’s approach to young people applied to the US but not the UK.

“I think we’ve been making stuff that cut through for young people, all the broadcasters are pretty good at it.”



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YCW Update: International Pay Day Appeal

Dear comrades of the International YCW,

Fraternal greetings!

2016 is an extraordinary year for all of us. Over the past four years (2012-2016), we have developed actions and a campaign on the issue of Just Work and Social Protection. The time has come for us to review the results of the whole process as we are heading towards our International Council next month.

It is obvious that our International Council is both a responsibility for us and a privileged space to review the results of our actions and deepen solidarity among young workers. In accordance to our international orientations, one of the responsibilities of national movements is to support the dynamic and the international dimension of the movement. As mentioned in our Internal Rules “All full and aspirant members of YCW pay an annual subscription and organize activities fir the International Day. They shall use the amount for contributions raised for the international day to support the International YCW.”

We have established August 25 as the YCW International Day. We are inviting you to manifest international solidarity through the payment of your annual subscription and organize various fundraising activities intended to support our International Council. Finance in our movement is not only about money but it is also an educational process for young workers to build an international movement from their capacity starting from the base groups towards national level and international levels.

We encourage all national movements to consult with your international team members in your region on how you will carry out your outstanding subscription and balance of 2016. The international team on the other hand is reviewing NMs’ annual subscriptions and will define clear criteria for your subscription for the years 2017-2020 subject to the approval of the International Council.

We do hope that you have all the necessary strength and wisdom as we move forward to “ACT4DIGNITY”.

In solidarity,

Andy Predicala
International Treasurer
JOC Internationale aisbl
Av. Georges Rodenbach 4,
B-1030 Bruxelles, Belgique /
tel: + / fax: + / FB Page: JOC International

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A Young Person’s Model For Social Justice


Anna Safronova pictured above at the Unreasonable Institute accelerator


One of the major advantages of global study and travel is that we get a perspective on opportunities we may observe more clearly in a foreign land. When Anna Safronova, a student from Russia, came to the United States she had this experience, which revealed her life’s work.

What ignited the spark in you to start My Dream City international? How did the idea for it come about?

The idea of the project is rooted in my own personal experience. During my high school exchange year in the USA, I spent a significant amount of time volunteering as a teacher assistant at a local art museum. There I became friends with an orphaned elementary school student who lived in a foster home. He was 9 at that time but had already changed several families. It was obvious that he encountered more challenges in his childhood than other students. But his story inspired me to think about even less fortunate kids. Despite not having natural parents he led a completely normal life, went to a regular school, had extracurricular activities and felt included into the community. In many other countries that have institutional care for orphans those children experience a very traumatic separation from the society. For many children who enter these facilities, there is little realistic hope for a fulfilling life. The contrast between the foster kid’s life and those led by orphans in many countries around the world seemed to be too striking and too unfair. Upon my return, I decided to do something about it starting in my hometown in Russia. At the age of 17, I visited a local orphanage for the first time. And that is how MDC International started. The MDC international is aimed at providing tutoring and mentorship opportunities for kids living in orphanages. The company’s mission is to facilitate kids’ transition from institutional care to adulthood, help them become self-sufficient and craft the future of their dreams. A large part of the curriculum is focused on empowering kids through building their self-esteem and self-worth as well as providing them with hard skills to develop their natural talent.


What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

• Might sound cliché but #1 is the ability to learn from your failures. There are very few people who succeed after the very first attempt. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and try again and again.
• Surround yourself by people who are smarter than you and treat them with respect so you all feel comfortable working as a team.
• Don’t fall in love with your idea. Share it, prototype multiple times and use the feedback to make it better.


You have had a lot of experience in marketing and social media through your position at the British Council. Do you think that social media has a strong impact on social change?

I am a firm believer that when used wisely social media can spark big social changes. Just think about the Ice Bucket Challenge that helped to fund a breakthrough in ASL treatment. There is no way a campaign like that could be possible without Facebook and Twitter.


But I’ve also seen big social media failures when significant funds were invested in creating viral videos or hiring social media managers who were just chasing the number of posts but not their quality. You need to be smart not to alter the initial message. In the end of the day, social media is just a channel of communication. Arab Spring, for example, a renowned product of social media, has failed miserably. It demonstrated that it is also important to think about how to maintain the changes that social media helps to create. Personally, I’d like to see social media not as a tool that leads protesters to the streets and city squares but as a way of igniting systematic peaceful change. Primarily, it means highlighting good stories and making positive examples of problem solving go viral.

When and how did you get involved with Unreasonable Institute?

I met the Unreasonable team at Unreasonable drinks. It is a wonderful monthly event that brings together truly remarkable individuals, community leaders and friends of the Unreasonable. I was invited as one of the Watson University scholars. Watson University is a semester long accelerator in Boulder for student innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs that includes mentorship from the world’s foremost leaders, entrepreneurs, and thinkers. At the event, I had the chance to pitch the MDC International idea in front of a very bright crowd.

Later on Teju Ravilochan, the founder of Unreasonable Institute, taught a workshop at Watson. It was one of the most useful and exciting classes I’ve ever had in my life. When I graduated from Watson I found out that they were looking for operations manager for the Early Childhood Development Accelerator. Since I had a relevant experience I didn’t hesitate to apply. That’s how I ended up joining the Unreasonable team.


Tell us how your work at MDC international influences your work at the Unreasonable Institute.

I think after working with children from low-income communities and children at risk I have a better understanding of their needs. When I learned about the ventures that joined the Early Childhood Accelerator and met with their founders and saw a clear connection between their solutions and children’s needs. That gave me a sense of purpose and great motivation to exceed the expectations of the Unreasonable team. From a practical point of view the experience of running MDC International equipped me with some useful organizational skills. That was definitely helpful for fulfilling my role at the Unreasonable Institute.

What has been your most rewarding moment thus far?

To me the most rewarding is to help people connect in a meaningful way. With MDC International it is rewarding to see kids from orphanages spend quality time with their volunteers. And it is fantastic when they keep in touch and build friendships beyond the curriculum hours. It helps them to finally feel included into the society outside of the orphanage walls.

At Unreasonable Institute every single day was rewarding because of the unique corporate culture and peer-to-peer support. Unreasonable is a very unique organization in that way.

New models of universities like Watson, help graduates like Anna to make valuable connections to define, grow, fund and measure their business mission. The Unreasonable Institute for social entrepreneurs is a network to keep graduates like Anna connected with specific people and resources for quantum growth. Anna’s mission to help students from foster families and orphanages is a wonderful model of addressing one of society’s greatest needs, often invisible to many. With leadership from graduates like Anna, the world’s toughest problems can be uncovered, addressed, healed and galvanized to create access and opportunity for all.

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The Facts About Indigenous Youth Detention In Australia

An ABC Four Corners report into the treatment of youth detainees in the Northern Territory showed images of juvenile detainees being gassed, choked and stripped naked in the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

Bianca Soldani


The Feed
26 JUL 2016 – 12:11 PM  UPDATED 26 JUL 2016 – 1:48 PM

More than half of children in detention in Australia are Indigenous

Indigenous Australians account for less than 3 per cent of Australia’s national population, but they make up more than half of all children* in juvenile detention.

According to the most recent statistics, Indigenous children are 26 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous children.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s December 2015 report on Youth Detention states that across the country, 54 per cent of juvenile detainees between the ages of 10 and 17 are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.

On an average night in Australia, 34 in every 10,000 Indigenous young people are in prison, compared to just 1.3 per 10,000 non-Indigenous young people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth are currently 26 times more likely to be detained than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

This trend is not new: Nationwide, Indigenous young people have consistently outnumbered non-Indigenous youth in every quarterly survey since March 2013.

Youth detention in the Northern Territory

The picture is even more stark in the Northern Territory where 97 per cent of youth detainees are Indigenous according to the 2015 Northern Territory Youth Detention System report.

The paper’s author, Michael Vita of NSW Juvenile Justice, reports, “Indigenous offenders are more likely to commit their first offence at a younger age than non-Indigenous offenders, and are more likely to have been charged multiple times.”

“Indigenous youth are more likely to be in detention than non-Indigenous youth, and they are being placed into detention for more serious crimes, such as acts intending to cause injury,” he continues.

The statistics also reflect that young people between the ages of 15 to 16 are most likely to be apprehended and that the number of people under 15 years being detained is increasing.

Mr Vita also expresses, “many young people in the youth justice system come from homes where poverty, alcohol abuse, violence and dysfunctional relationships are the norm.

“These are young people in greatest need and the ones who are likely to require a higher level of intervention and case management.”

He argues that the underlying causes for these young people’s offences need to be recognised and addressed.

The statistics are echoed in the adult population

Indigenous Australians are also grossly over-represented in the adult prison system with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ March 2016 report on Corrective Services finding that 28 per cent of the nation’s prison population is Indigenous.

On average,10,558 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are in prison each day, which is an increase of 7 per cent since the number was calculated at the same time in 2015.

The rates of Indigenous incarceration are the highest in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. For every 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA, 3,745 are imprisoned, while in the Northern Territory the statistic is only slightly less with 3,025 prisoners per 100,000 people.

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The numbers are echoed in community-based corrections as well, with nearly 20 per cent of people in community-based correctional facilities being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is an increase of 11 per cent since March 2015.

Consistently on the rise

According to data collated by the Law Council of Australia from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Indigenous Australians in the prison system has risen by a staggering 88 per cent between 2004 and 2015.

That’s compared to a 28 per cent increase in non-Indigenous Australians within the same period.

In the 25 years since the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths In Custody, the number of Indigenous people in prison has doubled. Meanwhile, there have been 449 Indigenous deaths in custody between 1980 and 2011, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders currently represent approximately 1 in 5 deaths in custody.

Australian Bureau of Statistics

The trends aren’t solely confined to male offenders – 34 per cent of the national women’s prison population are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

Factors that increase the risk of Indigenous incarceration include the “misuse of alcohol, socio-economic disadvantage, childhood exposure to violence and abuse, the younger age profile of the Indigenous population, previous involvement with the criminal justice system and psychological distress,” according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Inter-generational trauma, disconnection from land, levels of legal representation, a lack of English language skills, health problems and family breakdowns also contribute to the high rates of detention.

* For the purposes of youth detention in Australia, juveniles are defined as children aged between 10 and 16 years in Queensland and 10 and 17 years in every other state and territory.

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60 Young Australians Drive Social Change


A cohort of 60 potential innovators, selected to be Australia’s next Young Social Pioneers, will take part in a Not for Profit incubator program to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges.

Jan Owens AM, CEO of Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), which runs the program, told Pro Bono Australia News that young people needed opportunities to drive social change.

“Australia’s population is rapidly growing and ageing, our economy is restructuring, technology is transforming work, inequality is increasing, and our ecosystems are stretched,” Owens said.

“We’ve never experienced a more demanding, fast-paced or complex leadership environment.

“Backing young people is an important part of the investment pipeline needed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in young Australians so they can drive our economy forward and build the jobs and opportunities of the future – to overcome challenges they will inherit and help build the world they want to live in.”

Over the six month program, the pioneers, aged 16 to 29, will work on their ideas, develop their business and leadership skills, and receive mentorship from FYA and its partners.

“Participants are flown to either Melbourne or Sydney, gaining access to Australia’s only free co-working space for young people,” Owens said.

“Expert mentors as well as a team of YSP staff and alumni help develop participants ideas, honing their critical evaluation skills, business acumen and helping them to set goals for the future.

“We also empower them to showcase their ideas with workshops targeting their capacity to pitch and present their projects.”

At the end of the program, participants will pitch their ventures to entrepreneurs, philanthropists and business leaders for the opportunity to secure part of $70,000 seed funding to further develop their project.

Owens said the organisation, which received more than 340 applications, made selections “on the basis that [the] idea, regardless of which stream it’s in, has the capacity to make meaningful social change”.

“With ideas ranging from teaching young girls how to code to recycling tennis balls, this year’s cohort is an outstanding example of innovative youth entrepreneurship across Australia,” she said.

The areas of focus are arts and creative industries, education, environment, STEM, sustainability, youth mental health, and an open category.

There are now 200 changemakers in FYA’s Young Social Pioneers program, which Owens said was the largest community of young social entrepreneurs in Australia.

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National Op Shop Week: Young People Turning To Op Shops For High Fashion

Young fashionistas looking for high-end brands are finding designer clothes at bargain prices in Queensland’s op shops.

Charities across the state are expecting stores full of bargain hunters when National Op Shop Week begins on Sunday.

Laura Morley, 22, is an avid op shopper and said most of her wardrobe was made up of second-hand clothing.

“Whenever I find something in the shops, I think to myself I can probably find the same thing but cheaper at the op shop,” she said.

“I can’t quit the habit.”

Ms Morley said her best find was a $6 jacket which was a perfect winter trench coat.

“I often look for brands in the church op shops,” she said, adding she had spotted a number of exclusive labels in the stores.

Salvation Army’s Brisbane area manager Stuart Estreich said buying second-hand clothes made sense on price and helped protect the environment.

“I think the youth are more aware of the environment and are more aware of reusing and recycling clothes and the benefits in doing such,” he said.

“In a lot of our larger stores we are now running street boutiques, [where] boutiques have the more fashionable clothes.”

Op shop purchases help protect environment

According to the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations, Australian charity op shops divert more than 300,000 tonnes of clothing and home wares from landfill each year.

Ms Morley said dressing head to toe for a handful of dollars was not the only attraction of op shop purchases.

“I love to support a sustainable fashion industry,” she said.

“It’s a cycle, I buy clothes and donate clothes of my own that I don’t wear anymore, there’s no waste, everyone wins.

“It’s nice to know you’re supporting a charity and that the money is going directly to a cause.”

National Op-Shop week runs from August 21 to August 27.


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How To Stop The World’s 3.1 Billion Young People Being Left Behind

There are more young people in the world than ever before. While some see the planet’s 3.1 billion under 25-year-olds as a threat, others see the true potential of this demographic dividend. On International Youth Day on August 12, it’s clear that radical action is needed to help disadvantaged young people around the world fulfil their hopes.

Our ongoing study, Young Lives, has been following 12,000 children in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam from childhood into young adulthood since 2001. One of the most heartening things about the project has been hearing from parents about just how much their children’s lives have improved since they were young. By the age of 12, for example, nearly every child in the study was in school.

But one of the most disheartening findings has been revealing just how much difference poverty makes to a child’s life from the moment they are born. Despite the gains of the last 15 years, the poorest children in all four countries remain much more likely to be physically stunted due to long-term malnutrition, and the poorest children and those in rural areas are still the least likely to have access to safe water and sanitation. Young people from poor backgrounds are also at the greatest risk of leaving school early.

Build opportunity, the ambition is there

At the age of 12, between 75% (Ethiopia) and 92% (Peru) of children in our study aspired to study to a level beyond school, with a high proportion expecting to reach their goal. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds see education as their best chance to live a better life than their parents. Both the children and their families devote energy and resources to getting the education their parents never had. But too often children’s hopes are thwarted by poor-performing education systems, family misfortunes like crop failure or illness, and severely limited job opportunities.

According to the charity Solutions for Youth Employment, young people around the world are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than adults, and up to a third of young people who are employed have an income below the national poverty line. Where young people see opportunity, they seize it. Where they don’t, they lose heart.

In the words of one young man in urban Ethiopia who our researchers have followed since the age of eight, this means he has ended up “simply counting [his] age”. Creating decent jobs, and ensuring these can be accessed by young people and particularly young women, is the challenge of our times.

Too many cliff edges

The years leading up to young adulthood are full of transitions, but for young people from poor families they are rarely straightforward. Work often starts well before adulthood, progress through school is sometimes halting, and many older children are still struggling with early grades late into their school career.

Girls’ marriages are arranged early as a response to economic, social and reputational risks, exposing them to the hazards of adolescent pregnancy. At age 19, many young people are engaged in precarious work, or straddling education and the labour market. Our research has found that sudden change – for example, having to leave school as a result of failing exams at the end of compulsory schooling – often leads to a young person’s life course changing for the worse, as they find themselves choosing between very limited options. Good quality health and education systems with universal coverage play a vital role in ensuring children stay in school and reach adulthood with the competencies they need for life and work.

Education: an uphill struggle for girls in rural India. Young Lives/ Sarika Gulati

Interventions to help disadvantaged young people into the labour market must be designed with their needs and life experiences in mind. Programmes and policies must recognise the skills young people have already acquired through work, offer them second chances to boost literacy and numeracy skills, and above all avoid rigid entry and exit points and requirements which the most disadvantaged young people find hardest to meet.

Address the needs of young women

We have documented a steady process of social change. Girls share their brothers’ high educational aspirations and both boys and girls want to marry later than their parents did.

In some countries – such as Vietnam – girls stay longer at school and do better than boys. From an early age, however, girls spend more time on caring and household work. By the age of 19, between 13% (Ethiopia) and 37% (India) of young women were married or living with a partner, and between 9% (Ethiopia) and 24% (Peru) were already mothers. Fewer young men married this young, and they were rarely expected to deal with the demands of looking after small children to the same degree.

Strategies to increase young people’s economic opportunities will fail if they have young men as their default. Addressing young women’s need for safety, childcare support, access to jobs and empowerment must be at the heart of youth policy and interventions.

This century has seen impressive achievements for the world’s young people, but the poorest are still being left behind. We must do more to ensure that they too benefit from any global gains and realise their full potential and ambitions.


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Science Week: The Call For More Young People To Be Hooked On Science

Unlike the parasitic worms he spends much of his time researching, Dr Paul Giacomin is not one to shy away from the spotlight.

When he is not in the lab at James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, he tirelessly promotes not only his own work, but that of the greater scientific community.

So great are his efforts to tell the world about the wonders of science that on Wednesday night, he received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy award.

“[The award] is recognising people who are doing great science, but also taking their great science and telling the world about it and disseminating their findings,” Dr Giacomin said.

“The ultimate goal of it, really, is to increase people’s interest in science — especially young people — and get people interested in STEM subjects.”

Dr Giacomin said it was important for today’s scientists to reach beyond the pages of high-brow scientific journals and explain their research to everyday people in a way they were able to understand.

Whether it be through traditional and new media, school visits or other means, Dr Giacomin has gone to great lengths to ensure he does exactly that.

“Being active in the community, whether it be with younger people or just the general community, really does get attention to your own research,” he said.

“That obviously benefits you, but you also get the added benefit of giving something back to the community.

“The public are funding this science so you need to be able to tell people about it and not use medical mumbo-jumbo.

“Hopefully that influences younger people who are not sure if they should go to a career in science and shows them the kind of difference you can make.”

A life of curiosity

Using his own experience as an example, Dr Giacomin said choosing a career in science offered the opportunity to live in a perpetual state of curiosity.

“Being a scientist is almost like being a child for your whole life,” he said.

“You’re constantly challenging yourself, you’re constantly learning new things and experiencing the experience of discovery over and over again.

“Seeing something for the first time — no matter what field of science you’re in — I think is the number one attraction for being a scientist.

“It feels like you never work a day in your life; you’re doing something that you love and you get to travel the world.

“There are amazing things about being a scientist.”

For more information on National Science Week, visit

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Is Australia A Nation Of Workaholics?

Australia, the land of opportunity, the lucky country, the land of workaholics. I’m one of the lucky ones. I got out of the corporate land ten years ago when I realised I wasn’t cut out for it. It made me super stressed and unhappy. But lately, I’ve been questioning whether it was me, or the system. Have we got it all wrong? Do we need an entire overhaul? To adopt the work day used by many European countries, like my ancestral home, Cyprus, where they have a lunchtime siesta?

Apparently not according to the Fair Work Commission. Their latest reforms introduced this month allow employees to cash in their annual leave, highlighting that apparently not only are we a land of workaholics, but we also believe we don’t work hard enough and should work harder. Who cares if we’re also depressed, uptight, stressed out, sick people? We can cash in up to two weeks a year of our annual leave under this new scheme and work instead.

One has to question what kind of work culture we have spawned where our health, lives and wellbeing always seem to come in second. 

The changes were ‘praised’ by business leaders, with the nation’s biggest business group – the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – saying they showed the Fair Work Commission was prepared to listen to the needs of business. But isn’t that what we’re been doing anyway in this country for decades? ACCI chief James Pearson said the proceedings “highlighted the lack of flexibility in the modern award system”.

But I didn’t think there was much ‘flexibility’ when I worked in the corporate world. As a computer programmer straight out of university (very naïve to it all), when we were on a tight deadline (which was most of the time), there was an expectation (unless you didn’t want to get a good ranking and potential pay rise at your next performance review) that you had to work longer hours to meet the deadline. My manager reassured me though, that we would get ‘time-in-lieu’.


After some months of long hours, I emailed my manger about when I could take my time-in-lieu and was told in not so many words that part of getting a ‘high salary’ is that you are expected to work longer hours. I was outraged, and I expressed this to my co-workers (five men) who shrugged their shoulders and kept working. That’s when the ‘time-in-lieu myth’ dawned on me. So I put my head down and continued to work till I got so unhappy I thought I’d better have a baby, and have a rest.

Working a 9-5 (oh, the irony) job, made me so stressed I was unable to wind-down, to relax, to look after myself. It also rubbed off on me, caused me to bury myself in my work so much that later in life, when I packed it all in to pursue my dream of being a writer, I noticed I was a workaholic writer compared to my other arty friends. This became clearly evident when I received an Australia Council grant to travel to Cyprus to translate my poetry book into Greek. I had visited family there before but this was the first time I had immersed myself in the Cypriot work life. We had a very tight deadline and I was anxious we were not going to meet it. But my translator refused to put work before taking care of herself, resting, going out with friends – basically living.

“All you are focused on is work,” she argued with me. “Your mind never rests. I don’t work that way. We don’t work that way here. How do you work if you don’t rest? How do you function? What about life, what about living?”

Cypriots, for as long as I remember, have a relaxed attitude. I never met a Cypriot who worked long hours or weekends to meet a deadline. Work was equal priority to rest and play, which is clearly reflected in the work laws where the private sector close for a two hour lunch/siesta in the winter months, and 3 hours in the summer. It was not uncommon to find people sleeping on beanbags during siesta in the office I worked.

One has to question what kind of work culture we have spawned where our health, lives and wellbeing always seem to come in second. Has the Fair Work Commission actually considered the ramifications of this change?

The Australian Council of Trade Unions fears it could lead to an erosion of vital workplace conditions. ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said, “The fact that employees tend not to take the annual leave they have accrued indicates that employers are not creating work environments in which employees feel secure taking the leave that they have earned.”

I remember in a performance review meeting back in my corporate programmer days, I was subtly told I wouldn’t be getting a pay rise because I wasn’t ‘putting in’ as many hours as my male counterparts.

Will this change be another measure for putting in the hard yards? Won’t it pressure employees to work instead of taking time off they are entitled to?

And with all the improvements introduced into workplaces for flexible parenting, couldn’t this change mean parents who choose to take their leave will be discriminated against due to being less ‘available’? Family duties already fall disproportionately on mothers because of societal expectations. Won’t this change further increase the gender pay gap and entrench the culture of exclusion of women in leadership positions?

Seems pretty obvious to me.

Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance opinion writer, poet, film and theatre maker and the author of Love and F**k Poems.



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