‘Cozzie livs’ becoming a big issue for Aussie teens

Financial issues, particularly the cost of living, are rising in importance among young Australians.

Financial issues, particularly the cost of living, are rising in importance among young Australians. Photo: AAP

Australian teenagers are becoming more concerned with ‘cozzie livs’ – aka, the cost of living – according to new data released by Mission Australia.

Financial matters rose in importance for the third year in a row in this year’s Youth Survey 2023.

On the current trajectory, financial matters look set to trump the environment and equality as the most important issue in Australia for teenagers.

“The cost of food and petrol has meant that I have to work more and focus less on school,” an 18-year-old NSW survey respondent said.

Of more than 19,500 respondents, the environment appeared as the most important issue (44 per cent), but almost a third of those surveyed identified financial matters as a major issue  – up 20 per cent since 2021.

Two years ago, the economy and financial matters didn’t feature in the top three issues for young people, now, on 31 per cent, it’s ahead of mental health as an issue for respondents.

Equality and discrimination was the other major issue in the top three, also on 31 per cent.

For the survey, teenagers across Australia ranging from 15 to 19 years weighed in on their biggest issues, concerns and personal challenges.

The biggest personal challenges were with school (49 per cent), mental health (24 per cent) and relationship problems (21 per cent).

Considering nine in 10 respondents were engaged in study, it will come as no surprise that the biggest personal challenge for almost half of teens was school.

A high workload, academic pressure, challenges with teachers and learning difficulties were among the specific struggles faced by students.

But despite mostly positive feelings towards their studies, students made it clear they would like to see greater understanding from teachers and parents regarding mental health.

One respondent suggested private discussions with teachers during mental health challenges could help with plans to alleviate stress and pressure from school.

Overall, a quarter of teenagers surveyed said their biggest personal challenge is mental health, with more than a third saying they were extremely or very concerned about coping with stress.

“My mental health has probably been the biggest challenge for me in the last year,” a 17-year-old respondent from NSW said.

“I have been struggling with feeling down, stressed and overwhelmed.”

Mental health was also named as the biggest barrier to achieving work and study goals.

Many who struggled with mental health challenges said they wished they had someone to talk to who understood them.

Respondents offered possible solutions that Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister says need to be taken seriously.

“(Australian teenagers) want better access to mental healthcare services, accurate diagnosis and treatment, support from their family and friends and professional help,” she said.

Fears about the future have also greatly contributed to the mental health issues facing Australian teenagers, as many worry about the climate crisis, the environment and their future.

“In the past year, I have struggled with anxiety regarding my future and climate change,” a 17-year-old Tasmanian respondent said.

Ms Callister commended the fortitude shown by Australian youth throughout the past year, when survey responses were gathered.

During that time, Australians faced severe weather events, as well as public discussion on climate change, mental health, the voice referendum, racism, the rising cost of living and the housing and homelessness crisis.

“Through our Youth Survey, young people have shown they care about issues facing Australia and themselves, are strong and resilient, diverse and very capable,” said Ms Callister.

Outreach charity Mission Australia compiled survey results for its annual youth check-in between April and August 2023.


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