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What do older Australians think about young people?

The majority of older people deeply care about the future and wellbeing of younger generations, according to a recent report

Over 3,000 older Australians shared their thoughts on the anonymous survey published by National Seniors Australia. When asked to identify which issues facing young adults were of the most concern, unemployment, housing affordability, education and mental health topped the list. 

According to the authors, the responses defy assumptions that older and younger generations are in conflict with each other. 

“There’s too much commentary from economists and opinion writers that pits older people against younger generations,” said National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum.

“In fact, far from frowning about younger people, many seniors have empathy and expressed admiration and respect for them.”

The survey data found that many respondents wanted more educational opportunities for younger people, with some pointing to low wages and the casualisation of the workforce as the main drivers of youth unemployment. 

“Forcing older Australians to stay in the workforce longer is depriving young people of work,” one respondent wrote. 

“Housing is astronomically expensive – almost impossible for most. I really am concerned about what they are going to do in the future,” said another. 

Almost a third of older respondents brought up rising property prices and living costs as an issue requiring urgent attention. 

“[It] seems that young people are the only ones with enough brains to demand action on climate change – we should support them,” one person wrote. 

Opinions on substance abuse were varied, with 20 per cent of respondents suggesting disapproval towards youth drug use.

Frustration over young people’s smartphone use was a common theme in the survey. Social media was linked to a lack of communication skills and bad manners, with increased screen time associated with poor mental health.

According to National Seniors Australia, the findings indicate that older people are mindful of the issues facing younger generations and concerned about the many difficulties for their future. 

“What’s been missing in the conversation is what each generation thinks about the other.

“This report goes some way to filling that gap,” said McCallum.

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