The third Australian Child Health Poll provides a unique insight into Australians’ optimism for the current generation of children and young people, and whether or not, they believe politicians today represent their views about the wellbeing of children and teenagers.
Most Australians think that compared to when they were growing up, children today are either no better or worse off across a range of indicators including mental health, safe neighbourhoods and prospects for employment.
And our pessimism extends into politics, with more than 47 per cent of Australians saying that no political party leader represents their views about the wellbeing of children and teenagers.
The Director of the Child Health Poll, paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes, said that in an era in which discussions about resourcing were dominated by the needs of older Australians, the findings were an unexpected call to action.
“Despite great advances in medicine, public health, and technology, most Australians believe life for children and teenagers today is no better, and in many aspects worse, than when they were growing up.
“And when it comes to whether our politicians are doing enough for children, the answer is a resounding ‘no’ with almost 50 per cent of people saying federal politicians neither understand nor represent the interests of children and young people today, and 76 per cent agreeing that they should take more action on issues relating to children’s wellbeing,” Dr Rhodes said.
Other key findings from the third Australian Child Health Poll show that:
- More than half of Australians think children and teenagers today are no better off when it comes to physical and mental health than when they were children
- The majority think that children today are worse off than when they were kids when it comes to neighbourhood safety and 40 per cent think the environment and climate are worse
- Despite a strong perception of better education, almost half of Australians think employment opportunities for today’s young people are worse than when they were growing up
- Almost half of all adults think life is no different when it comes to family violence for children today compared to generations past, and almost a third think it is worse
- Less than 20 per cent of Australians think that politicians in federal parliament represent the interests of Australian children and teenagers
- The majority of Australians, regardless of age, income, and parental status, support funded interventions to tackle child health issues including a tax on sugary drinks, compulsory daily physical activity in schools and a gradual ban on junk food advertising
- Almost 70 per cent of people support government funded fulltime childcare or kindergarten for four-year-olds and funding for non-religious welfare workers in schools