Jobs, uni funding the highest priorities for young voters

WITH more than one million young Australians waiting to be wooed by the political process, is it time for a specific youth party?

New survey data from The Australia Institute is showing what young voters will support, with jobs, rental housing, university funding and marriage equality as their highest priorities.

While policies on refugees and the climate change dominate the political landscape, they are not capturing that younger population.

Previous research from the institute found that 1.2 million young people - or 47% - felt no party represented them.

Of those, 15% were disinterested in politics.

Australia Institute youth engagement officer Bridget Daly told APN a targeted approach to these voters could be "critical" to an election campaign.

"We're talking about really big numbers," she said.

"They are numbers that can win or lose elections."

Ms Daly said that while the concept of a youth-oriented party could have merit, it was not necessarily the solution.

She pointed to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's comments on his ascendancy.

After wrenching the top job from the grip of Julia Gillard, Mr Rudd used his national address to ask young people to "please come back and listen afresh".

"With your energy, we can start cooking with gas," he said.

Ms Daly said Mr Rudd needed to show his comments were more than just words on a page.

"We're seeing a cycle where young people's voices are not being listened to; the things they care about aren't being given attention," she said.

"For a functioning and healthy democracy, all of the parties need to be listening to the entire population, and that's not happening.

"If Kevin Rudd is prepared to come good on a national turn-off, and bring young people into the conversation, it could be enough for those needs to be met."

Topics:  federal election 2013 the australia institute voters youth

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