Alternative paths to politics: How young people engage in politics in Australia

Photo of two casually dressed young women in an open plan professional area, looking at paperwork on their laps
Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) ANU, April 2024

Harnessing the power of young people and promoting their participation at every level of decision-making is essential to ensuring that government is representative, and policies are effective, inclusive and address the needs of diverse communities.

Yet, there is a disconnect between young people and the decisions that are made that impact their lives. This is even more evident for young women and those from minoritised groups.

– Alternative Paths to Politics report

In October 2023, GIWL ANU hosted their inaugural Youth Summit for young changemakers. Summit participants were surveyed about the barriers and opportunities to political engagement, participation, and representation for young people, and their attitudes towards politics and what political representation means to them.

Drawing from the survey results, GIWL ANU outline approaches and strategies to engaging young people in politics and creating pathways to politics that are diverse and sustainable.

Some key findings:

  • Only 28% of survey participants see politics as a career. 75% view it more as a series of actions to take in their day-to-day lives
  • The safety of political workplaces and frustration with the lack of diversity in politics are key barriers to political participation
  • Climate change, First Nations rights and gender-based violence are the leading policy concerns for young changemakers, but they do not feel government is effectively addressing these issues
Pie chart with the header "What are the main barriers stopping young people from running for politics?". The largest portion at 36% is Workplace safety, followed by Representation (33%), Ability to make a change (19%) and Access to resources (12%)

Read the report

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