The rate of suicide among young Indigenous men is the highest in the world, according to a new report highlighting the challenges facing young Australians.
The first ever Australian Youth Development Index (YDI) was compiled as part of International Youth Day.
The index helps formulate youth development policy in the domains of education, health and wellbeing, employment as well as political and civic participation, measured across 16 key indicators.
It rates a state or territory’s performance with a score between zero and one, with one being a perfect score.
Among the reports findings were alarming statistics on youth suicide, which showed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men between 25 and 29 had the highest suicide rates in the entire world.
The index found Tasmania and Queensland recorded an increase in suicide rates despite national rates remaining steady.
Health and wellbeing registered the most significant deterioration over a 10-year period, with the index’s authors attributing that to mental health issues and the increasing use of alcohol and other drugs.
Overall, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest YDI score at 0.851, while the Northern Territory had the lowest score at 0.254.
Research finds youth are struggling to gain employment
The report also found employment opportunities for young people had declined in every state and territory, with the NT recording a drop of 80 per cent since 2006.
It also found that in all states and territories, the percentage of young people not engaged in education, employment or training was significantly higher for rural youth than for those in the cities.
The index took information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including census data, as well as figures from health and education departments, such as NAPLAN data.
The report also found that despite a high level of youth development in Australia compared to other nations, there were gaps at a regional level, between city and country and Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.
It also found that many important youth issues were not measured by data or were measured but those figures were not readily available or comprehensive enough for analysis by indexes such as the YDI.
Nonetheless, in a global context, Australia’s YDI was considered “very high”.
The report also found that Australia had improved in all domains except youth health and wellbeing, where it had gone backwards, against the global trend.
The report said the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of young people in its population out of any state or territory — around one in every three people — but had managed to register the biggest improvement in its performance over the 10-year period, with a 30 per cent increase in its overall YDI score.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890