Growing up in Australia today may be vastly different than it was for us but the jury is out on whether or not our children actually have it better.
A new survey has found most Australians think, compared to when they were growing up, quality of life for children today hasn’t changed much or is worse when comparing issues such as childhood obesity, mental health, safe neighbourhoods and job opportunities.
As we prepare to head to the polls next month, the latest Australian Child Health Poll found almost 80 per cent of more than 2,100 adults surveyed want those in power to take more action on issues relating to children’s wellbeing.
Director of the poll, Dr Anthea Rhodes, says the results were an unexpected call to action in an era so focused on resourcing the needs of older Australians.
“Despite great advances in medicine, public health, communication, and technology, most Australian adults believe life for children and teenagers today is no better, and in many aspects worse, than when they were growing up,” Dr Rhodes says.
“And when it comes to whether our politicians are doing enough for children, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Almost 50 per cent of people believe federal politicians neither understand nor represent the interests of children and young people today, and 76 per cent agree that they should take more action on issues relating to children’s wellbeing.”
Dr Rhodes says people of all ages and across all states and territories share an overwhelming perception that politicians lack understanding of what is important for children. Parents of young children aren’t the only ones wanting more action on child health issues, with 70 per cent of people without children echoing the call.
The majority surveyed believe children today are worse off than when they were young 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.
As the election creeps closer, Dr Rhodes says people don’t know where to turn, with almost half of those surveyed feeling their views on the wellbeing of children and teenagers aren’t represented by any political leader.
“Problems such as childhood obesity and mental health problems are on the rise, and what’s clear from the Child Health Poll is that children’s health issues are very much a priority for voters,” Dr Rhodes said. “Australians have indicated their strong support for policies targeted at tackling rising obesity rates including a tax on sugary drinks, compulsory daily physical activity in schools, and a gradual ban on junk food advertising aimed at children and teenagers.”
If you want to know what policies are currently on the table heading into the federal election, Babyology has compiled a guide to what’s in the budget for families.