A Victoria University academic says targeted government support would better engage radicalised young Australians turning on their own country.
Associate Professor Robyn Broadbent says the government contributes to disenfranchising certain groups of young people because it does not have clear youth policies that recognise the value of the country’s young people.
“No one is joining the dots about why the young men making news as ‘terrorists’ in Australia are becoming marginalised and disengaged,” she says. “This is not about religion or politics – it’s about them seeing themselves as having no future, no seat at the table, no chance for active participation in the governance of their community and of their country.”
Australia is among a minority of countries in the world that does not have a government youth policy or minister for youth to represent young people and give them a voice in decision-making about their futures, she says.
“Young people who feel little or no connection with mainstream Australia will identify with other marginalised groups that provide them with a clear purpose and a sense of acceptance and belonging,” she says.
As one of Australia’s leading academics on youth work programs, Dr Broadbent was recently invited to address 700 delegates at the United Nations’ first forum on youth policies in Azerbaijan. She presented findings from a youth development index that compares the status of young people around the world which she helped create.
While Australia ranks number one in the index – which measures the education, health, civic and political participation and employment of young people in a nation – opportunities for young Australians are not spread equally throughout the country, she says.
“Areas such as Brimbank or Dandenong in Melbourne are notable for their very high rates of youth unemployment, school drop-outs and families living in poverty, as well as for their large proportions of minority communities.
In some cases, young people from these areas are told they are not ‘sufficiently Australian’, which increases their disconnection and creates a very toxic mix.”
Dr Broadbent suggests Australia develops formal policies that mandate a youth voice at every level of government – especially of young people from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds – to ensure more young people make successful transitions into adulthood.
Dr Broadbent is available for interview. She wrote a more comprehensive article on this topic for The Conversation.
Dr Broadbent coordinates VU’s Youth Work courses at the University’s Footscray Park Campus. She lives in Brunswick. She can be reached on 9919 4861 or [email protected]
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