New Report Shows How Young Aussies Feel About the Government’s Handling of Climate Change

climate change young people australia

With time running out to address the ongoing climate emergency, new research has found that almost all young people in Australia think that the government is failing to address the issue.

What more, young Aussies are losing faith in democracy as a means for creating change, and do not believe that governments across Australia are listening to or addressing the problems that they face.

93 per cent of Aussies under 30 have said that the government is not doing enough to address climate change and that it’s an issue that is overwhelmingly the responsibility of government to fix.

The results were compiled in a landmark “Awareness to Action” report, released by Foundations For Tomorrow — an initiative of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community — and supported by Aware Super.

The report seeks to amplify the voices of Australia’s next generation and has captured more than 10,000 responses; 5,743 through a comprehensive survey and 5,222 through targeted social media polling.


Almost all young respondents (96 per cent) said that we cannot overcome the current global challenges without making significant changes in key areas.

The report identifies young people’s top priorities for urgent policy action as:

Climate solutions

That means taking action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through reducing and offsetting emissions in the pursuit of significant reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

Wellbeing and security

That means preserving the mental and physical wellbeing of individuals and ensuring they have access to safe and secure housing.

Equity and inclusion

That means correcting long-standing injustices with regards to historically marginalised communities to create a safe, just, and equal society.

Young people have said that that they have little confidence in leaders across governments and industry in Australia to deal with the problem.

Only 7 per cent of respondents said that they feel confident about the future, with the majority them calling on government to take more ambitious action.

Young Australians believe leaders are detached from the things affecting them the most, with only 11 per cent believing that their vote is a meaningful way to create change.

Managing Director of Foundations For Tomorrow, Taylor Hawkins, said: “Young people’s disillusionment with Australia’s political system is not a sign of apathy”.

“This report shows young Australians are deeply engaged in the country’s most pressing policy issues. They are looking for ways to create change, and want leaders to listen and take initiative.”


Young Australians nominated climate change as the most important challenge for Australia to address.

80 per cent of those surveyed want the government to make accelerating action on climate change a key goal of the economic recovery from Covid-19.

Some 71 per cent say they would vote for or support political leaders who take bold and immediate action to address the climate crisis.

When asked ‘what is the most important social issue to you’, 38 per cent gave responses focused on diversity and inclusion.

At a high level, young people are fairly split on whether they view Australia to be an inclusive society, with 66 per cent believing the country is not. Young Australians also demonstrated a strong desire for First Nations’ rights and reconciliation to be prioritised in Australia’s future.

An overwhelming 96 per cent would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum to recognise First Nations Australians in our constitution, and 90 per cent say First Nations Australians should have an enshrined voice in Parliament.

Personal wellbeing and housing security came in as the second and third most important challenges. Some 78 per cent of young Australians do not believe that all Australians have access to the basic support they need.

The report found that young people are struggling due to mental health challenges and lack of affordable rental properties, combined with the significant financial constraints of balancing study and employment.

“It is time for Australian leaders to turn our awareness of key policy challenges into meaningful action,” Hawkins said.

“The very fact that many people won’t be surprised by the statistics in this report is the greatest indictment on the lack of leadership and sustained progress on the issues that matter most to young Australians”.

“We need to reset our leadership culture, because, at this rate, we will continue to lag on the most important issues facing this country.”

In response to the findings, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young – one of the report’s responding leaders – said, “I think there is a breakdown of trust in politicians and in government. And that’s a travesty.”

“We need a democracy that is accountable, that is robust, that is engaged because of the issues we need to solve in this next generation.”

Principles for Future Leadership

The report outlines six principles for future leadership that, based on the qualitative submissions of over 3,000 young Australians, articulate the leadership culture that is required to create a more just, equitable and sustainable future for Australia.

Those are:

Redefining prosperity 

Multigenerational Thinking

Proactive Inclusion

Restoring Trust

Working Together

Ambitious Vision and a Greater Appetite for Risk

Aware Super CEO, Deanne Stewarts aid: “The insights from this report help us to better understand how younger Australians view their future.”

“What’s really clear in their feedback is this palpable sense of wanting to see leadership and clear action around some of these massive issues.”

“They want confidence in their leaders that they can walk and chew gum, tackling the pandemic as well as the longer-term risks associated with climate change into the future”.

Hawkins added that “We need to address this growing divide by embracing multigenerational thinking, restoring trust, and taking more risks.”

“Young Australians know that their future is on the line, but they are still hopeful that their government and business leaders will find new ways to solve our pressing challenges.

“If we want Australia to live up to its potential as a just, equitable and sustainable country, the time for that action is now.”

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