“A COMMON EXPERIENCE”: Young people face an uncertain future on the Southern Downs.
“A COMMON EXPERIENCE”: Young people face an uncertain future on the Southern Downs.

Youth plead for a fair go as unemployment hits new high

YOUTH unemployment is skyrocketing on the Southern Downs, where people aged between 15 and 25 years old are twice as likely to be stood-down during the COVID-19 financial crisis.

The “terribly shocking” new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed young Australians were hardest hit by the downturn, with joblessness rising to 13.8 per cent in April.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the difficulty young people faced was “beyond anything they could imagine” and Stanthorpe resident, Emma Carr, agrees.

Miss Carr faces a cold winter, sleeping on the streets, after she was stood down from her hospitality job in March.

She remains “on the books”, hopeful to resume working once business starts back up, but she’s fast running out of time.

The 20-year-old has been couch-surfing after a string of bad luck left her without a stable place to stay, but she must leave within the week.

Share homes were fraught with tension, substance-abuse was rife in her childhood home, and she never received a response regarding her application for government housing assistance.

“If I don’t find anything soon, I’ll probably end up homeless,” she said.

“I’ve slept on the streets a couple of times before, but I’m in Stanthorpe now and it’s really cold here. Normally if I was in that situation I might be able to go to the pub, but even they’re closed with the restrictions.

“I just want to be independent, with a place of my own.”

It’s a humble dream for a woman who spent much of her childhood in foster care, “always moving from one house to the next”, but she hopes someone will give her a chance.

Though she may be unemployed now, she has post-secondary qualifications in hospitality, tourism and child support and hopes to one day help others in the foster care system.

A social media appeal for a cheap rental drew attention from dozens of residents, some of whom may offer a solution.

“I don’t want anything for free, I have to pay my way,” she said.

“But I want to find something in Warwick, and I don’t have a job, and I don’t have references, so it’s hard.

“I’ve applied for a few places, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.”

Miss Carr said she knows she is far from alone in her struggle.

“To be honest, I think it’s a common experience here and it is very difficult for younger people my age,” she said.

“Young people just need more of a chance.

“I won’t give up.”



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