In August 2021, the Australian Government released a new Youth Policy Framework which outlines policy objectives for supporting young Australians in areas such as education, work, mental health and community engagement.
Research findings from the Our Lives cohort study played a key role in the consultation process through which the Framework was developed.
An opportunity for the Our Lives study to contribute to this important process emerged when researchers at Monash University and ACU were commissioned to examine and report to the Australian Government on Young Adults’ Experiences of Australian Public Services.
Two members of the Our Lives research team – Dr. Jonathan Smith and Dr. Jacqueline Laughland-Booÿ – led ACU’s contribution to the report, which relied on analysis of seven waves of survey data collected from the Our Lives cohort between 2006 and 2019.
This analysis provided critical insights into kinds of life pathways Australians currently experience during young adulthood, including their work, study, housing and relationship transitions.
By developing a rich empirical picture of the complexity of youth pathways as they emerge over time, data from the Our Lives cohort helped to provide some important context as to when and why young Australians interact with public services in their broader life journeys.
Another key contribution of the Our Lives data was in illustrating the mental health challenges facing Australians during young adulthood – findings which were reinforced in other submissions to the consultation process by organisations such as Mission Australia and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Encouragingly, mental health has since been identified as being a priority area in the Youth Policy Framework, particularly in light of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 in young Australians’ lives.
2021 marks the fifteenth year of the Our Lives cohort study, with participants now aged 27/28 years. It also coincides with Wave 8 of the Our Lives survey, which is currently underway. This year’s survey includes a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on the lives and well-being of the Our Lives cohort.
We look forward to sharing our findings from the latest survey very soon!