Today’s youth face a future full of promise..and debt – if these new Budget changes come to pass. The proposed reforms made by the Abbott government on welfare and university fees has threatened young Australians with a life spent in, and paying off, debt – particularly for those university students who plan on attending or are currently attending higher education institutions.
Young Australians have had it tough over the past couple of years. Having been disproportionally affected by the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2007-08, as well as witnessing considerable changes to government policies, a competitive job market, and high levels of casual employment coupled with high unemployment rates; the message for today’s youth is clear: there is a considerable likelihood of a lifetime burden of debt.
The latest study by Roy Morgan data found that many young Australians between the ages of 16 and 25 already carry a high amount of debt in relation to their income. The study shows that in this age group, about one in three carries more than $2500 in credit card debt each month, despite their average weekly income of $791.
For university students, recent stats suggest that university fee hikes will climb from 20% to over 100% depending on the degree. Universities Australia predicts student debt levels will double, citing that the average student today can look at almost two decades of paying off their HECS debt.
For those who are currently seeking employment, they will have to rely heavily on family and non-government support in order to support themselves and their basic living expenses.
With the changes to the Newstart scheme, young Australians under the age of 30 will have to wait six months before receiving unemployment assistance, despite the extremely difficult prospect of gaining employment in this current job climate.
For those who are lucky enough to find employment, the likelihood is that it will be on a casual or part-time basis, limiting income allowance needed in order to pay off these debts.
For those looking to further their education, they are faced with debt before they even begin to attend the classroom, with university courses doubling in price and the addition of proposed restraints to the FEE-HELP/HECS scheme.
Even young people in trades face the proposal of concessional trade support loans of up to $20,000 over a four-year apprenticeship, and the removal of financial assistance for tools for existing apprentices.
All of these instances point to a dire future for young people, especially for those who can’t rely on their families or other guardians for support, or for those who aren’t already wealthy or have built up a comfortable savings fund.
Young people are not in the position to save, with student debts almost triple of what they earn, restraints to welfare benefits, poor employment prospects, rising house prices, and the wider availability and easier access of credit cards and personal loans.
On top of this, there is this conradiction in the proposal made by the government calling for young people to take on more responsibility and stop being ‘lazy’, while cutting off the hands that help them to achieve this.
There is also the threat of increasing crime rates among youths as well as a higher risk of mental illnesses such as depression as a result of lower prospects for work and less financial support available for young people coupled with the anxiety of having to pay off student debts larger than a mortgage.
We, as young people today, want to have access to the bright futures we are promised, but with this new Budget and a government that favours the wealthy, we are facing a major dissonance. Instead of investing in the future of Australia, the Abbott government is cutting down too hard on an economic and social environment which is still mending itself from a major economic downturn and aiming its spending cuts to those who are least able to afford it.
Unless the youth of Australia have the luxury of obtaining their financial support and basic living expenses from their parents or have a well-paying job and savings in the bank, they face a life of repaying debts based on and stemmed from an inequitable Budget and an inalienable government.