The Apathy of Youth

And so it ends. It has been a long, tricky eight weeks. Eight weeks of trying to sort through political rhetoric, of trying to read between the lines. During these eight weeks, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were named the presumptive nominees of their parties in the lead up to the U.S. election, the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, and I attempted to regain some semblance of sanity while also attempting to write my thesis.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I voted in my first federal election (and what a complete and utter mess that was). I was as keen to vote then as I am now, even if it meant enduring minutes of people thrusting pamphlets in my face. It is probably worthy to point out that I am not a political person – and by that, I mean I will probably never join a political party, or volunteer my time for any such party. But I like to be informed, and I am sick of the assumption that I don’t care about politics just because I’m young. I mean – I get it. I’ve overheard many a conversation between other people my age about how annoying it is to have to vote, how it probably doesn’t mean anything anyway.

These people make me angry. We are lucky enough to live in a country with a democratic process, lucky enough that someone like me, a young woman of colour, is allowed to participate in such a process. But their views, mixed with an overwhelming opinion of young people as lazy, complaining dole bludgers, combine for somewhat of a perfect storm – one that means politicians can talk about us as if we don’t exist. It results inĀ  politicians dictating and telling us how we feel and what we want.

Not surprisingly, there is no one ‘youth’ issue. We aren’t a homogenous entity that can be placated in a couple of sentences or with a few lacklustre promises. We’re all concerned about our futures, as well as the future of our country. Personally, as an arts/science graduate with views to complete further education, the issues I’m most concerned about include funding for the arts and STEM industries, support for mental health organisations, deregulation of university fees, climate change, the continued freezing of Medicare rebates, and our treatment of asylum seekers. My sister, a podiatry student (soon to be graduate), would almost certainly have different issues on her mind, and the same goes for many of my close friends.

Admittedly, there have been some attempts to engage with young people, but for me, they’ve all fallen flat. Mainly because most of them include the co-opting of popular apps like Snapchat, and generally treating us like ‘those young ‘uns’ instead of adults capable of making their own, relatively sound decisions. Like many of my peers, I just want someone to tell it to be straight. No lies, diversions, or matryoshka dolls of secrets and hidden agendas.

Malcolm Turnbull has been urging voters to think of the Australia they will leave behind for their children and grandchildren. Sure – but what about those of us who *are* the children and grandchildren? What sort of Australia are we going to have to live in?

We mightn’t yell as loud as everyone else, but we are still here. We are not apathetic. And we sure as hell are listening.

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