‘Young people must be heard’

Issue 

Twenty-two-year-old Mitch Cherry has been preselected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the seat of Bellarine in the November 27 Victorian state elections.

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Being heard is one of the biggest challenges facing young people.

We're forced into the workforce early to learn “work ethics” and the value of money. At 15 or 16, we might be working full time as an apprentice, or flipping burgers, but we’re not allowed to vote. We pay taxes but have no representation.

The Socialist Alliance believes young people deserve a say and supports lowering the voting age to 16.

Young workers are among the lowest paid, have the least job security and face extra exploitation simply because they don't know their rights or where to go for help.

I’m running to help highlight these issues and to set an example.

We live in a system geared towards private profits, not public need, which disadvantages many people, especially young people.

Take public transport, for example. In the Bellarine area, as in many regional areas, public transport is terrible. It is run for profit: fast, free, frequent and safe services are not the priority.

So, at times when there are fewer passengers, like late on a Saturday night, no services run. If you are living in Ocean Grove or Queenscliff and want to go out for a few drinks on a Saturday, you need to have enough money to afford a taxi. This disadvantages young people especially, giving them less independence and control over their social lives.

Education is also neglected and under-funded by government. Ever-decreasing funding has pressured universities to adopt business models just to stay afloat. Students are forced to take on part-time, or even full-time, work to support themselves as their uni fees spiral out of control.

This is a huge drain on those studying full time and working, sometimes up to 48 hours a week. It also has a flow-on effect to other parts of our lives such as family, culture, social life and engaging with political campaigns and social movements.

Governments prefer us to be too busy working and studying to have time to care about what they are doing to our future. It is best for them if they can simply ignore us.

Another significant issue for young people is the use of public space. This isn't just about skate parks and youth centres: it's about culture, and how we express ourselves in our communities.

Young people are treated as nothing more than a demographic to be marketed to. The idea that we may want a say in how we use public space is ignored. So, of course, is the genuine desire of the huge majority of young people for real action on climate change. We are the generation who can stop it — we will pay the price if we don’t.

Governments pay lip service to climate action but really prioritise coal companies’ profits over the planet.

Young people feel passionate about these issues, but are isolated from mainstream politics — they have no say and when they do speak up, they are ignored.

This is why it’s important we have youth candidates running at elections —candidates who represent the progressive opinions of so many young people.

Whether or not I am elected, the real fight for our future will be the fight to build strong, radical social movements that can change society and save the planet from runaway climate change. Running in elections gives us the opportunity to raise these issues and build these movements.

I am running for the Socialist Alliance because we have a vision of a better world: we believe it’s possible, and we’re willing to fight for it.