For many young people, volunteering and activism go hand-in-hand | 1/23/2018 | Staff
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Senator Jacqui Lambie has proposed establishing a Senate inquiry to increase the number of volunteers to address challenges such as climate emergencies.

One way she suggests doing this is by conscripting young Australians to national emergency service. The senator argues that "today's generation don't really want to volunteer themselves and commit to certain things. They want to show up to a rally once a year and apparently that's giving back … It bothers me that kids today wouldn't know a bloody sandbag, let alone a spade."

Proposal - Back - Criticism - Youth - Climate

Her proposal comes on the back of criticism of youth climate protesters by several prominent politicians, such as Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who has said, "The best thing you'll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue."

Collectively, these statements reflect a view of young people that is wildly inaccurate.

Lambie - View - People - Immature

Firstly, Lambie echoes a familiar but negative view of young people as disengaged, indifferent and immature.

Volunteering rates are indeed declining. In 2014, volunteering declined for the first time since 1995, when the ABS started conducting national voluntary work surveys. The proportion of people aged 18 years and over who were volunteering fell from a peak of 36% in 2010 to 31% in 2014. (This is the most recent data available).

People - Civic - Activities - Australians - Research

Historically, younger people are less likely to engage in civic activities than older Australians. But wider research during the last decade suggests something more nuanced.

A national youth survey in 2018 found volunteering to be one of the top three activities for young people—ahead of arts, culture and music activities. ABS figures from 2014 also showed that while overall rates of volunteering were on the decline, young people aged 15-17 had the highest rate in the nation at 42%.

Measures - Volunteering - Breadth - Depth

The measures used to track volunteering also fail to capture the breadth and depth of volunteering that...
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