Mission Australia’s 2013 National Youth Survey has found one in seven Territory teens don’t intend to complete year twelve.
The alarming figure is more than three times the national average and coupled with the finding that less than two-thirds of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their school studies.
The Youth Survey, which is the country’s biggest annual stocktake on the views of young people, was completed by 109 Territorians aged between 15 and 19 years.
When asked to nominate the most important issues for Australia, young people in the NT rated alcohol and drugs at the top of the list for the second year in a row.
In a new concerning trend, mental health jumped from eighth spot in 2012 to second among young Territorians.
The top three personal concerns for young people in the NT continued to be school or study problems, coping with stress, and body image.
Other survey highlights include:
· Around 1 in 5 young people in the NT indicated their family’s ability to get along was poor – more than twice the national average
· Almost one in five young people in the NT were negative or very negative in their outlook for the future (compared to 8 per cent nationally)
· More than one third of young people in the NT aged 15-19 are currently looking for work (including part-time/casual)
· Only 35 per cent of young people in the NT plan to go to university (compared with 65 per cent nationally)
· The internet is the number one source of information for young people in the NT, with 40 per cent of respondents spending at least 20 hours a week on social networking sites
Mission Australia’s 12th national Youth Survey not only asked young people about their personal and national concerns, it also surveyed what young people value, who they turn to for advice, what activities they engage in, their views on employment and how they feel about the future.
Sue Kendrick said the fact almost 15 per cent of young people surveyed in the NT said they didn’t intend to complete year twelve – more than three times the national average – is a serious concern, coupled with the low rate of young people planning to go on to university, TAFE or college.
“We need greater investment in youth education, training and employment, particularly in communities where there is entrenched disadvantage,” Ms Kendrick said.
“There are significant economic and social benefits that flow over many years from improving the participation of young people.
“Encouraging our young people to not only complete their schooling, but also to pursue higher education and training will be crucial to meeting their career needs as well as the needs of our future workforce.”
Ms Kendrick said it was also concerning that young people in the NT are becoming increasingly concerned about mental health issues.
“When asked how positive they felt about the future, almost one in five respondents in the NT was negative or very negative in their outlook - this compares to 8 per cent nationally,” she said.
“We need to ensure that young adults in the NT have the support they need, so they can look to the future with confidence and do not fall through the cracks while trying to make the journey from adolescence into adulthood.
“If we take this opportunity to listen to their voices and act on their concerns, we can provide hope for the future of our state and the next generation of NT youth who will lead it.”
Mission Australia is a leading community organisation, focused on standing together with Australians in need, until they can stand for themselves. We want to support our young people to gain independence and lead productive, fulfilling lives.