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Are the young people ready to cast their vote in the 2022 Australian elections?

Source: AAP

It' the first opportunity for young people aged 18 to 20 to take part in the elections at national level

It's an election that for many in this group of climate activists, comes at a critical time.

The School Strike For Climate movement rose to prominence in 2019, gathering momentum after the fires and floods in Australia in recent years.

Nineteen-year-old Varsha Yajman  has been a key organiser in the movement.

She's now working as a paralegal in Sydney and continuing her climate activism.

"I'm really excited, but I think there's also a lot of pressure because it's the first time that a lot of people from my generation are able to vote. It feels like so much of the burden is on us to make the 'right choice' and make the proper choice that is going to give us a safe future. We're already burdened with so much responsibility and we don't want to exacerbate that in the future."

Fellow climate advocate Niamh O'Connor Smith is based in Melbourne, and says she finds the government's policies off-putting.

"I sit here and think 'I don't know what my future looks like'. They don't represent what I want and they don't represent what young people want. I don't see anything in any of their policies that's actually going to help me long term, or build community around me and help other young people like me build a future."

At a training pitch in Sydney's inner west though, the approaching election isn't front of mind for players.

Footballer 1:„I'd have to say I know Labour and Liberal. And I'm pretty sure Scott Morrison's Liberal. That's all I know to be honest.

Footballer 1:„You see what you see on social media and stuff, so I'm probably just going to end up making my decision based on what I'm seeing on the internet at the time. I haven't really put too much thought into who I'm going to vote for, but when the time comes I'll do my research and see how I feel about whichever party."

In Perth, the local Tigrayan community has long been advocating for the government to condemn the Ethiopian government over alleged war crimes in their homeland.

Eighteen-year-old biomedical science student Noha Tsehaye has watched the government condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and is disappointed it hasn't done the same over Tigray.

"I do wish in the future, whichever party does win the election really condemns the Ethiopian government for what's happening in Tigray. It's been done with Ukraine within a matter of 24 hours but with Tigray it's been over 500 days."

At the University of Queensland, students are considering the issues that will drive how they vote.

Student 1: “Climate change, 100 percent climate change. Also I think housing prices and rent. Rent in the city in particular is actually crazy and it's very stressful trying to become an adult and not knowing how much time I'll need to buy a house and settle down."

Student 2: "Everyone who studies, they study what they want to do. It shouldn't be that they force people to choose different career paths just for economic reasons. It should be study what you want to do, because you don't want to live your life, working a job that you hate."

Senior Lecturer in politics at the Australian National University, Doctor Jill Sheppard, says the nature of Australia's compulsory voting system means young voters are often overlooked by the major parties.

She says it's unsurprising many first-time voters are disengaged from the political system.

"I think it's the easiest job in the world for the parties to engage younger people more than they're doing now, because at the moment they're frankly doing nothing. All they have to do is speak to younger people on terms that appeal to them. So talk about climate change, talk about access to education, talk about the problems faced by renters and people saving for their first homes. These are issues that the major parties seem scared to talk about because they will put off older voters, and they have to face that risk."

The Australian Electoral Commission says as at the end of February, there were 612,300 Australians enrolled to vote aged 18, 19 or 20 years old.

Spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth says after the election is called there are just seven days to enrol. He encourages people to enrol as soon as they can.

"The message to anyone who is ever listening to us when we're talking about enrolment is, do it now. It's really easy. You can just go to AEC.com.gov.au. It's a completely online form. You can do it on your mobile phone - takes about five minutes."

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