Australia's oldest youth organisation warns against long-term impacts of COVID-19 on young people.
YMCA WA (the Y) has warned that the impacts of Coronavirus COVID-19 on young people will be long-lasting without interventions and support for young people.
Delivering frontline services and programs in 640 communities across Australia, the Y is seeing and hearing the impacts of COVID-19 on young people first-hand including from its own 13,000 employees, of which 60% are under 30.
With a 175-year legacy of supporting young people through events such as the Spanish Flu, World War I, World War II, the great Depression, and more recently the Global Financial Crisis, the Y is well-placed to understand the impacts of global crises on young people.
The Y Western Australia CEO Ross Kyrwood said while support subsidies such as JobKeeper were important, many young people were falling through the cracks.
“Unfortunately, many young people have been stood down or made redundant nationally, which has obviously been extremely stressful, and particularly hard for those not eligible for financial support. However, it’s not just unemployment that is impacting our youth, it’s also the disruption to education, reduced community connection and impacts on their mental health, Mr Kyrwood explained.
So, we are here to say, we are still here for young people. We’re adapting to continue to support young people and local communities, which we have done for over 100 years. Some of our doors might not be open, but right now across Australia Y’s are evolving to meet local needs, such as delivering support to vulnerable young people online instead of face to face, and continuing to provide essential child care and exploring new ways to connect.
Here at the Y, we’ve created online fitness classes for our valuable Y members, we’ve started virtual playgroups for families to join in from the comfort of their own home and with the voices of young people never more critical, we’re amplifying them through our youth platform WhyNot and our podcast YChats.
Alana Christidis, Youth Advocate and host of our podcast YChats said, “Before we created YChats we surveyed young people and asked what issues they would like to discuss on our podcast. The main callouts were addiction, domestic violence, sex, bullying and drugs. We also called out for young people to come onto the show and share their stories, together with experts who could advise listeners on each fortnight’s topic. Our most listened to podcast in season 1 was an episode where we interviewed a young man whose family suffered a most tragic domestic violence act. So, it made sense to kick season 2 off this week with a leading domestic violence expert talking about how domestic violence is being magnified during lockdown and giving practical tips to keep young people safe.”
Natalie Woloszyn, WhyNot? Editorial Committee member said, “Now more than ever young people need an avenue to express themselves on issues they are facing. WhyNot? is that avenue to help amplify those voices and be the source of comfort to other young Australians. We’re all going through the same thing, so let’s be there for each other.
You see, this what we do, we believe in the power of inspired young people.
We’ll continue to create positive change and social impact despite the challenges. And when this crisis is over, the Y will still be here to support young people and the communities that support them.