Whitlam Institute


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Putting the politics back into Politics: Young people and democracy in Australia


Prepared by Dr. James Arvanitakis, and Siobhan Marren, PhD candidate, University of Western Sydney

Our research provides strong grounds for optimism. It reveals that “young people are already active…just in ways not always understood”. They are thoughtful, innovative and adaptive. They bring to the democratic endeavour new ways of inter-acting and challenging questions.

However, not all young Australians are such active participants in the political or civic life of the nation. That too is clear from our research. It is imperative that the door be opened for these young people – a number of whom have no exposure to a genuinely civic engagement – to the experience, knowledge and benefits of democratic participation.

The challenge is not simply to listen to what young Australians think, but to give due weight to what they are saying, to find a way for the voices that are unheard to be heard, to support, encourage and acknowledge the contribution of young people to civics and democracy in Australia.

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