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What's worrying young Australians and where do they go for advice and support? Policy and practice implications for their well-being


  • Declaration of conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ms Anne Hampshire, National Manager, Research and Social Policy, Mission Australia, Level 7, 580 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia. Email:


Aim: The Mission Australia annual National Survey of Young Australians aims to generate insights into what young people think on a range of issues, including what they value, what issues are of concern to them, and where they go for advice and support.

Methods: A two-page opt-in questionnaire was distributed to a very broad range of organisations across Australia, and was available in both an online and paper-based format. Responses to the survey were anonymous. Respondents were asked to rank items from the lists provided, and results are reported on the basis of items ranked one, two or three by respondents. Responses were disaggregated by age, gender, cultural background and living arrangements.

Results: Close to 48 000 young people participated in the 2009 survey, and the data confirms the importance of relationships to young people, as well as the diversity of concerns they may have, including drugs, suicide, mental health and body image. While concerns tended to vary with age and to some extent gender, what is valued by young people tends to be consistent across age and genders, namely family and friends.

Conclusions: Implications for policy making and service delivery are drawn with a focus on the issues of relationships, drugs and mental health. In particular, the need for early intervention, evidence-based drug education programs, and initiatives that support those closest to young people, to assist them when they have concerns, are highlighted.