Rob Wright

Young Australia's issues missed in election campaign

THE major political parties have avoided many issues important to young Australians - such as asylum seekers and marriage equality - instead trying to capture their attention through targeted images and messages on social media.

In the most visual federal campaign so far, parties are using pictures - of NRL fans, coffee beans and politicians' families, for instance - to soften their image on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

An N2N Communications analysis found the most popular image a politician shared on Instagram in May was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Mother's Day shot of wife Lucy and one of their children.

The most exciting time to be visiting Parliament House! Meeting with students from Malvern Primary School earlier today

A photo posted by Malcolm Turnbull (@turnbullmalcolm) on

Although 1.7 million Australians aged 18-24 are enrolled to vote, one in five in that age group and almost half of the nation's 18-year-olds have not enrolled. The politicians, of course, are trying to snag the attention of those who have enrolled.

The low enrolment may be a symptom of a wider disillusionment with politics, but many young people are passionate about particular issues.

They want action, but doubt the politicians agree.

A snapshot of voting intentions from the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition has found young Australians believe asylum seekers, marriage equality and climate change outrank education, health, unemployment, housing affordability and tax reform in importance.

The national survey of 3369 Australians aged 12-25 was conducted during April and May and found that while more than half of young voters had not yet decided who to vote for, they were very clear about issues they wanted addressed.

AYAC chair Katie Acheson said the "Agenda for Action: What young Australians want from the 2016 Election" survey showed young people were focused on broader social issues, not themselves.

"Young people are often sidelined from the political debate and accused of being apathetic. This research reveals that they are extremely passionate about being part of important national discussions and having a say on policies that directly impact their lives and the economic future of Australia," she said.

"They (young people) are likely to be both the first generation to have lower standards of living than their parents and the first to contribute more to government spending than receive from it. They want to help solve the challenges they and their communities face."

Griffith Business School researcher Dr Katherine Hunt said no candidate had offered anything remotely inspiring or of interest to young people.

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