Australia's young people are not coping with the coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

The survey was released on Sunday. Source: Getty

Two-thirds of young Australians are worried about their education being disrupted or held back during the pandemic, according to new research.

Many young Australians are struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and feel overlooked in the public debate about it, according to a UNICEF survey released on Sunday.

The survey found the proportion of Australians aged 13 to 17 years who feel their ability to cope well with life has almost halved from 81 to 45 per cent since before the national pandemic response was implemented in late March.

It also found that 40 per cent of this group viewed many of the pandemic-related discussions about children and young people, such as school closures, as being more about the impact on parents, carers and the economy.

An empty school in Sydney during the pandemic.
An empty school in Sydney during the pandemic.

UNICEF Australia program and advocacy manager Juliet Attenborough said young people have been struggling with the mental health and wellbeing implications of continuing their education and social interaction in relative isolation, relying on intense, prolonged screen time in online video for both.

"They are experiencing high levels of uncertainty about the impacts it will have on their senior studies and graduation from high school and a sense of being relatively overlooked stakeholders in public discussions," she said in a statement on Sunday.

"Many are worrying about its implications for the future they will inherit when the pandemic is over."

The survey found 67 per cent of the young people were worried about their education being disrupted or held back.

The national survey of 1,007 teenagers was conducted through YouGov Galaxy in the first half of April and UNICEF Australia young ambassadors followed up with consultations of young people in regional NSW, Tasmania, Perth and Sydney.

Seventeen-year-old UNICEF Australia young ambassador Daphne Fong said, "young people told us that when sitting and concentrating on a screen for a long period of time, it becomes intensely draining".

"Many have lost the ability to immediately ask their teachers questions or to clarify understanding with their friends," she said.

"Learning processes have slowed down. Many have felt that they can't go back online for after school activities or to socialise with peers. They highlighted inconsistency in the way screen time is managed between schools, as well as problems of inequity in internet access, speed and reliability."

Additional reporting: AAP

Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information is available at Beyond and


People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

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