Labor’s COVID-19 response risks creating a lost generation

Today the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee of the Parliament of Victoria heard that young people are being disproportionately impacted by the Andrews Labor Government’s response to COVID-19. 

Professor Patrick McGorry told PAEC that presentations at emergency in relation to self-harm were up 33 per cent.

Young people are facing long term unemployment, disrupted education, ongoing isolation, mental health challenges and an increased risk of suicide. With no light at the end of the tunnel, the Andrews Labor Government risks creating a lost generation.

Daniel Andrews’ plan to extend the State of Emergency for another 12 months creates fear and uncertainty at the prospect that restrictions on movement and job activities will drag on, placing an even greater risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of our young people. The damage in the longer term to educational outcomes and job opportunities for young people will be enormous.

Young Victorians face having their education delayed as they’re unable to complete placements and practical course requirements, or even sit their driver’s licence test.   

Jobs have disappeared in key industries for youth employment such as retail, hospitality and tourism. This will have long-term impacts on the ability for young people to afford even basic cost of living expenses.

Young people are experiencing isolation differently to older Victorians. Isolation has curtailed the ability for school-aged children and young adults to socialise, play sports, build networks, develop coping mechanisms and overcome anxieties. 

For the sake of Victoria’s young people, the Andrews Labor Government needs to provide a sense of hope for the future with a path out of lockdown.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Youth, Bridget Vallence:

“The pandemic has had a major impact on young Victorians, with many losing their jobs and becoming socially isolated from their friendship networks in sport, school and work.

“If the State of Emergency is extended for another year, the prospect of prolonged restrictions places an even greater risk to the physical and mental wellbeing of young people.

“The Andrews Labor Government has failed to develop a plan to help young Victorians through this crisis and risks creating a lost generation of young people.”