Do you think you know the big issues Gen Zs truly care about?
Some are obvious, but there are actually some pretty big surprises in the mix. As the years come and go these issues of concern can change quite dramatically. This year covid is near the top, but how long will it stay there? Meanwhile with the advancement of gay marriage in Australia, LGBTQIA+ equality is becoming less of a major issue of concern for Gen Zs.
So as part of our Gen Z Wellbeing Check report we asked young Aussies to choose which societal issues are currently worrying them the most. Here’s what we found.
- Mental health – 68%
Over two thirds of young Aussies are worried about mental health according to our Gen Z Wellbeing Check research, making it the biggest issue for young Australians today.
To be clear, this isn’t saying mental health is an issue they’re concerned about for themselves, but as an issue of concern more broadly.
But when we asked them how their own mental health is, we found 6% said it was very good, followed by good (24%), okay (37%), poor (25%) and very poor (8%). To get an in-depth look at Australian Gen Z mental health, download our Gen Z Wellbeing Check report.
- Coronavirus – 66%
Years of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions took a heavy toll on their schooling, social lives, and economic situations.
“My final year of schooling was impacted negatively by the coronavirus pandemic. I have found it hard to stay motivated during online learning due to not having a study space – I often have to study sitting on my bed as I live in a very small house with my dad,” a young person told us.
“Due to the coronavirus situation I have also lost my job, and with limited jobs available I haven’t been able to save any money. This has been stressful as neither my dad or mum can provide financial support.”
- Climate Change – 62%
This would surprise many. If we’d asked you to bet Gen Z’s number one issue, we’re sure a few of you would have put the house on climate change. But such has been the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mental health that it’s been relegated to third place.
“All aspects that cause (climate change) such as plastic pollution and deforestation are of deep concern to me as I grew up in a small coastal town in South Australia that heavily depends on the fishing industry,” a young person told us.
“I spend almost all of my spare time exploring the coast and out amongst nature and it would be an awful shame if we could no longer do this.”
- Cost of living – 58%
The rising cost of living also concerns more than half of young Australians which is unsurprising considering the rising cost of food, fuel and other essentials.
- Youth suicide – 51%
Meanwhile, the youth suicide rates worry half of Gen Zs we surveyed.
“The suicide rate in Australia (is the top issue worrying me) – especially the fact that it is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44,” a young person told us.
“This has led to me spending on tickets to a festival from which the proceeds went to the black dog institute for mental health.”
- Racial equality – 47%
Just under half of young Australians worry about racial equality, with many telling us they’re boycotting businesses and companies that don’t exercise diversity or advocate for human rights.
“I personally do not shop with brands that do not support diversity or have been known to discriminate against communities,” a young person told us.
“To improve their image, (they) should use models in their ads of people of colour definitely and people of all different sizes not just skinny and tall. They should also stand up to any public discrimination using their Twitter account or any other social media platform.”
- Housing affordability – 46%
Forget the Aussie dream, Gen Zs are facing the Australian nightmare, with home ownership never being so off the cards for a generation due to soaring prices, demand from investors, and a chronic shortage of supply.
The outlook is so bleak, that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Aussie properties as some of the most expensive in the world.
- Sustainability – 44%
Sustainability is also a top concern among Aussie Gen Zs, with many making drastic life changes to minimise their negative impact on the planet.
“I’ve always been a meat eater – I’m a teenage guy from South Africa. It’s in my blood, I even use to work at a jerky store!” one Gen Z told us.
“But after a friend of mine went vegan due to environmental reasons it really inspired me to be sooo much more conscious of what the effects of what we eat and drink have on the environment (and how) if we don’t stop our consumption levels of varying things that bleak future is just around the corner.”
- Plastic pollution – 42%
Many young people are also livid about plastic use and its careless production from big businesses.
“Things such as Coles minis have prevented me from shopping there altogether, as I think these products display a complete ignorance towards the huge efforts of others to reduce plastic use,” one said.
“I think market chains such as Coles and Woolworths should cease promotions such as these and offer plastic disposal bins at all of their locations so that this plastic can be recycled. I believe that, as merchants who sell products containing plastic, it is their responsibility to provide an outlet through which these products can be safely disposed of”
- Gender equality – 41%
Two in five Aussie Gen Zs are worried about gender (in)equality, with a staggering 81% telling us during our Gen Z & Corporate Activism survey that they believe big businesses should be involved in trying to solve issues unrelated to their industry – like Gillette’s 2019 #metoo razor campaign.
- Ocean conservation – 40%
Some young Aussies are so concerned about overfishing that they’re factoring in sourcing and sustainability into their seafood purchases.
“For example, I will not buy canned fish unless it makes a point of being ‘responsibly fished’ and is truthful,” one said.
“Mass markets and department stores need to stop catching and selling fish in an unsustainable manner.”
- Poverty/inequality – 38%
Over a third are outraged by poverty and inequality, not just in Australia but around the world.
“The issue of global poverty is one that should be resolved in the world today,” a young person said.
“The rich are becoming richer and those with the power to make a difference should do so. This can influence my purchasing habits because larger organisations should be committed to improving living conditions in poorer countries. I will generally purchase from businesses with a global action plan or strategy to reduce poverty.”
- Forest conservation – 36%
Forest conservation is also particularly worrying for young Aussies following the recent Black summer and Amazon bushfires.
“Environmental effects such as bushfires are everywhere lately, with the Amazon rainforest being one of them,” one said.
“I believe businesses shouldn’t be greedy, no deforestation needed for their own company needs, and let planet Earth have its ‘breathing-lungs’.”
- Refugees – 36%
The way Australia and other countries treat refugees worries more than a third of Gen Zs, many of whom think businesses should take more responsibility for supporting those who have fled violence and persecution.
“(The way we treat) refugees worries me,” one young person told us.
“I think businesses can do more to aid and provide work opportunities for people who have fled their country and are trying to make a life in Australia.”
- LGBTQIA+ equality – 36%
Lower down the list than many might have anticipated, some young people are frustrated about the lack of meaningful allyship – particularly from businesses.
“(I’m really frustrated about) the inequality between gender-conforming and non-gender conforming individuals and their associated support with LGBTIA+ communities,” one young person said.
“Not in terms of branding a flag but actual social support regarding these issues, such as support for mental health services.”
- Animal welfare – 33%
A third of Gen Zs care that products are sourced in a way that doesn’t involve unnecessary harm to animals.
“I have adjusted my beauty and skin care products so that I only buy certified vegan and animal cruelty-free items and also ensure that they are made of natural ingredients where possible,” one concerned young person told us.
“I don’t buy any meats and the animal products I do buy I ensure are sustainably produced.”
- Unemployment – 28%
Over a quarter of young Aussies are concerned about unemployment.
But it’s not just unemployment Gen Zs are worried about – research from The Australian National University has found the importance of not just having a job, but having a job you enjoy.
“High school teachers have a responsibility to support the passions of their students,” a school student said.
“High schoolers like me lack the support and foresight to foster our passions into something bigger. This is a major contributing factor to why so many people are unemployed and not studying. They don’t have a passion and don’t see the point.”
- Data privacy – 24%
Also on the minds of almost a quarter of Gen Zs is data privacy.
“Climate change is probably my #1 concern,” one young person told us.
“But I’m also concerned about data privacy. I’m not concerned about giving away my data, but it would be better if businesses were transparent about what they did with it, and try and protect it.”