Page last updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Australian youth priorities – the influence of family and friends
According to survey results released in November by Mission Australia, young Australians have very real concerns about many issues, and drugs and alcohol rate very high in their list of concerns.

A survey of more than 45,000 young Australians aged 11 to 24 found that drugs rated second overall in young people worries, after body image. In 2007, drugs ranked 10th on the list.

The Mission Australia survey also canvassed what young people valued most and found that family, followed by friends, was overwhelmingly more important than financial security or “making a difference”.

“There’s more concern about the harm of drugs in their peer group rather than themselves, so there’s a concern for others there that we may not have seen before, and hopefully that’s a move away from that “Me Generation” thing,” Mission Australia state director Paul Bird said.

“Obviously we’re seeing children grow up faster; we’re seeing communication is a key factor in that. So they’ve got a much higher awareness, which is good, but they also need to be equipped with how to deal with that.”

Mr Bird said young people were sensitive to the push from government and schools to inform them about the risks of drugs and alcohol. But he said the most effective way of drilling home those social messages was peer-to-peer education.

The survey found any family conflict was of high concern to young people and was also related to the importance of physical and mental health. Alcohol was of significantly more concern to young males than females, while girls tended to be more worried about body image. Boys were also more likely to value the need to find work than their female peers.

Salesian College’s director of student well-being, Ron Ruzzier, said it was important for parents to have realistic expectations of their children and not always tie success to academic results. Interest in their child’s emotional, as well as academic development, was also necessary.

To view the report, visit

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