Bright Futures: a student perspective

In December 2015, The Bright Futures: Megatrends impacting the mental wellbeing of young Victorians over the coming 20 years report was launched.  VicSRC Executive, Victoria Vassallo, offered the student perspective at the launch as a young person in a room full of adults.

Victoria Vassallo

Commissioned by VicHealth and undertaken by CSIRO, the report paints a picture of the challenges facing young people into the future and provides a unique opportunity to build young people’s resilience, social connection and mental wellbeing to withstand and bounce back from the stresses of these rapid changes. Read more.



Hello everyone. Firstly I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and I pay my respects to ancestors past and present.

It is a pleasure to be here today to represent the voices of young Victorians. My name is Victoria Vassallo, a year 11 student within Catholic Regional College Melton, here representing the Victorian student representative council or VicSRC. VicSRC is the peak body representing school age students in Victoria. We exist to empower the voices of students in education. 

Firstly I would like to thank Vic Health for allowing me to share my opinion today, in regards to the Bright Futures report. I would also like to take a moment to thank each and every individual within this room for caring for the wellbeing of youth. It's incredible to see the amount of adults that genuinely care about the young people within Victoria. 

Overview:
Beyond Blue has found one in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition and a quarter of young Australians say they are unhappy with their lives. We know from the work VicSRC has done consulting with young people around the state, wellbeing and mental health is a top priority for us.

As a young person today we are;

  • Always connected through technology
  • We are entrepurenial
  • We have short attention spans
  • We see a world with greater diversity, and greater inequality
  • We are media savvy
  • We can Google anything we want to know
     

My experience of this world as young person is young people often feels lonely, isolated, stress, and pressure. 

Response to the Bright Futures report 

The rising bar

It is great to see a prediction of higher levels of skills and education in the future. Having a more educated society could lead to greater equality and acceptance among people. It could be a future where were we celebrating different cultures, people, and lifestyles.

The flip side of this issue is with increased skill and education level we also can predict even more competition within the job market. We know already that youth unemployment is at an all-time high at around 15% in Victoria and worse in regional areas. The 2015 Mission Australia report found that lack of job opportunities is one of the top 3 things to affect a young person’s ability to achieve their goals in life. It is critical that leaders and educators keep equipping us with an education for the 21st century. We need to reimagine our school system; we need to ensure real life learning experiences are available for all young people that will equip us for the future.

Global reach

Uber – is the largest taxi company in the world, but doesn’t own a single vehicle.
Facebook – is the world’s most popular media owner, but creates no content.
AirBNB – is the world’s largest accommodation provider, but owns no real-estate.

Something interesting is happening. These are just the start of the disruption we will see in my future. A lot of these initiatives are generated by young people. We are using social media to innovate and come up with these creative ideas and solutions to the world’s problems. More opportunity and trust needs to be given to young people to foster our creativity and innovation.

Life's rich tapestries

I am passionate about equality and respect for others, no matter what sex, race or religion, and I believe a society that is right and just is the key to a successful future. Increased education and exposure of ideas for young people means more people can understand diversity and different views. It could mean a world with fewer stereotypes, less racism, sexism, homophobia, physical and verbal abuse, face-to-face and cyber bullying. It could increase the positive wellbeing with youth from all cultures and also allow a variety of unique perspectives within the community.

Overexposure online

While young people need trust and support to take risks from adults we also need to be protected and looked out for online and offline. We need adults to get up to speed in the digital age so they can make laws and help us navigate this ever changing world.

Out of the shadows

There are so many opportunities to the way services and support is providing to young people. But the most important this is that young people want to be empowered to understand and take action around their mental and physical health concerns. I think young people themselves are a key resource. Models like peer-to-peer mentoring and support programs designed with young people at the centre are crucial.


The Out of the Shadows report is really important. Youth mental health is one of the biggest issues within today's society. 

You all know the statistics.

We are all here to alter those statistics to make sure we live in a world where mental, physical and spiritual health is valued and equally weighted.

It's going to be a challenge, but if we can create this future, it will benefit everyone.

Thank you. 

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