Young people may sometimes wonder about their value.
Often they are criticised for being greedy, self-indulgent, or lazy. As one character says in a story by Chinese writer Lu Xun, “Each generation is worse than the last.”
But they are also described as the future of humanity. In 2015, the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called them “invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions.”
He was speaking on International Youth Day, 12 August. This date was first declared in 2000, to shine a light on youth issues around the world while empowering young people to contribute fresh ideas and take proactive measures to make the world we live in a better place.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) marked International Youth Day this year by gathering facts instead of opinions, using data from last year's Census results to create a “selfie” of the typical young Australian.
The Census counted 2,988,390 Australian residents aged 15 to 24, representing about one in eight (12.8%) of all Australian residents. The highest proportion (14.1%) lived in the ACT.
This year, International Youth Day celebrates young people’s contribution to inclusion and social justice, and Census data shows that young Australians in this age range are more engaged than ever in helping their local community.
Over half a million of them, about one in six, said they spent time doing volunteer work in the 12 months prior to the Census. The ABS says this figure has grown continuously over recent Censuses, from around 450,000 in 2011, and just under 395,000 in 2006.
Around 151,000 said they provided unpaid assistance to a person with a disability in the two weeks prior to the Census, another figure that has steadily risen.
Education remains an important aspect of life for Australian youth, with more than half (58%, or 1.7 million) attending an educational institution.
The sustained increase in these figures shows that young people in Australia are committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies.