COVID-19 and Young People

Today Abigail spoke in support of a motion recognising the impacts of COVID-19 on young people, especially in relation to employment opportunities, and the need for the government to provide additional support. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:22:13): On behalf of The Greens I support the motion. I also thank the Hon Rose Jackson for moving it. During the global financial crisis I was in Europe where I saw firsthand the impacts of the economic crisis on the most vulnerable people in society whilst sparing those with more and power. I also saw the impacts of the subsequent austerity policies that were put in place coming out of that crisis. I will give two examples of how that unfolded. In London bankers and lawyers who had lost their jobs were getting fast tracked into jobs that lower paid or unemployed people or graduates would have hoped to obtain. They were fast tracked into teaching jobs, jobs as detectives and so on. There were a number of schemes.

Even without government intervention, the loss of well-paid jobs resulted in a shuffle down effect. The job opportunities for people at each stage narrowed as those recently out of jobs in the pay scale above came down the ladder. Meanwhile, hiring freezes across both the private and public sectors meant that recent graduates had no entry-level jobs to go to. Years later, when hiring picked up again, it was the new graduates from that year, not the ones who had been unemployed for the last few years, who were first in line to get the entry-level jobs. A generation of young people found themselves locked out of the job market and that impact has reverberated throughout their entire working lives. In some countries youth unemployment has never recovered. In 2014 in Spain the youth unemployment rate was still more than 55 per cent for under 25s. Before COVID hit it was still at over 33 per cent.

The statistics are similar in countries such as Italy and worse in countries such as Greece. The pre-COVID European Union average was almost 15 per cent, staying roughly twice as high as the average unemployment rate across all member countries. The same thing, of course, is happening here. Even before this pandemic, the New South Wales youth unemployment rate was around twice that of our average rate and that trend has continued during the pandemic. It has already disproportionately hit them as vulnerable people in our society and the economic fallout will continue to disproportionately impact not only on young people but also on women, people with a disability and other disadvantaged groups. International students, women on visas and other non-voters have been particularly neglected in the Government's response plan so far. Acknowledging that disproportionate impact is the first step. The second step is for this Government to design a recovery plan that specifically seeks to rectify that inequality, not just now but also into the future. This motion gives a few examples of that and The Greens support it.

Read the full transcript on Hansard here.

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