I previously interviewed my mum about her first experiences of television, this time it’s about the internet. She first connected to the internet with a dial up connection at the age of 28 when I was five. Her first memories … Continue reading
Dear Australian Liberal National Party,
My name is Rachael. I am a second year university student. I am under 30 years of age. I am unemployed. I will be impacted by your changes to the eligibility criteria for Youth Allowance.
Before you considered implementing these changes I was excited for the prospect of graduating from university, of course I was worried about my chances of gaining employment fresh out of uni, but I was focused on getting my degree and succeeding in the eyes of society.
Right now, I am shitting myself due to the six months I will be without financial support. I am certain this genius (this is sarcasm) brain fart was conceptualised with a certain stereotype in mind. This is the Liberal Party’s perception that us selfish Gen Ys have successful parents who would be able to feed, clothe, house and drive us around for six months while we apply for 40 jobs and go to all the job interviews we’ll get (more sarcasm).
It is obvious you kept this stereotype of “the ideal Australian LNP voting family” in mind when you ignored the fact that 719,700 Australians were unemployed in May 2014. You kept this stereotype in mind when you ignored the fact that there were only 146,100 job vacancies in Australia during May 2014. It looks to me like the numbers don’t exactly add up. You kept this stereotype at the forefront of your minds when you ignored the fact that 2,265,000 Australians are living below the poverty line. My family falls below this line.
My family is my mother. She works two jobs, seven days per week and still does not earn enough from her jobs to pay rent, bills and living costs. Unlike your stereotype of drinking, partying hard and going to music festivals I give most of the money I receive from Centrelink (i.e. taxpayers) to my mother so I can continue to live at home. She would not be able to keep me at home without this money.
When I graduate and you deem me unfit to receive support to live, I will have to leave home. I have no other family. I have nowhere to go. To tell me to go to an already struggling charity sector displays your lack of compassion and knowledge of the amount of support they are able to provide. According to Homelessness Australia there are currently 105,237 people who are without a home in country you were appointed to lead and care for.
Another stereotype you kept in mind was that us Gen Ys are lazy and selfish. Halfway through my first year of university I was fortunate enough to gain an unpaid internship in the industry I wish to work in after I graduate. I have been there 12 months today and hopefully I can continue to work there until I complete my education. This will give me around 30 months of on-the-job experience and maybe just enough to gain employment out of uni. But employers expect up to three years experience. The only way to get experience is to work in unpaid internships. In case you missed it, the key word is UNPAID. While companies know they can get a recently graduated student to do work for nothing, they will not consider paying them for it. At the moment, I am getting in to debt for a degree that might not be used.
When I leave uni, not only will I most likely be rejected from employment but I will also be rejected from financial support too. You might achieve your goal of a surplus of money but not without gaining a surplus of societal problems. Crime will increase. Prostitution will increase. Suicides will increase. Mental health will deteriorate. This budget is cruel. It was shaped by crude stereotypes that you have applied to every single young person in Australia. You have no idea what you are doing to my generation. Or you do and you just don’t care. If that’s the case, who’s the selfish generation now?
I’m a lazy, unemployed Gen Y. What’s going to be done about me? I’m an epidemic! Stop me from becoming the failure the media is so sure I’ll be! Fellow BCM112ers, we are told every day by the media that we have nothing to look forward to, that we are held back by our own inability to get off our butts and, I dunno, study or something. We have no real interest in the problems of the world or giving back to society. Well, what can we do?
We could join a society or club at uni, volunteer every weekend, rescue neglected animals in our local area, like a page on Facebook, change our profile pictures… Could Facebook – the reason why nothing gets done – solve the issue of corporate greed or equality and actually change something?
There is an endless list of pages on Facebook that claim to further a cause. They’ll contribute $1 to their cause if I like their page. They’ll send a bag of rice to Africa if I share their post. Wow, I better like that page or all those people are going to starve. If I ignore it I’m not interested in helping to end the suffering. Do they really do anything to help? Is my lazy attempt at activism causing change somewhere or would it be better for me to actually get out and do stuff to make a change?
The recent Human Rights Campaign on Facebook saw many people who believe in this to change their profile pictures, clogging news feeds for over 24 hours. It would have reached everyone one way or another (if you haven’t seen this, what rock have you been under?). This campaign has seen the introduction of marriage equality in several US states, New Zealand and France. Could there be a correlation between this campaign and the introduction of marriage equality? There’s every chance that could be the case. It is gaining momentum everywhere. The more people behind something the more chance it has of getting airtime in the mainstream media. Mashable recently reported about the relation between online political engagement and how that translates into “real life”. They found that 18% of social media users surveyed in the US participated in offline political events that they had originally learnt about through social media.
What about the Occupy movement? Reaching its peak in October 2012, 82 countries around the world participated in the movement. The organisers used the internet as a way to reach people, rallying the 99%. In Australia, we thought we’d put our two cents in when we also organised several Occupy movements. Around 2000 people attended Martin Place in Sydney. Some Reports from Australian media were less than positive about this turnout, using the argument that because Australia has one of the best economies in the world we don’t really have that much to worry about.
We can’t write clicktivism off straight away. Spanish sociologist, Manuel Castells says “[online] movements raise awareness and embrace and encourage people”. So why can’t we feel better because we liked a page on Facebook? In my opinion, the more momentum a cause receives from popular media, the more chance it has of making a change. I agree that liking a page on Facebook or changing your profile picture definitely won’t solve the problem, but there’s every chance that someone who has the ability to assist in a useful and meaningful way will help. They always say there’s strength in numbers, if enough people are behind a cause and willing to get their hands dirty then there is no reason to why a problem can’t be solved with Facebook.
Dispatches from the information wars: online activism on the move – http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/29/dispatches-from-the-information-wars-online-activism-on-the-move/
South Africa: Can Online Activism Change the World – http://allafrica.com/stories/201304171268.html
Pew: Online Political Engagement Can Lead to Offline Activism – http://mashable.com/2013/04/25/pew-internet-politics-activism/
‘Slacktivism’ vs ‘snarktivism’: how do you take your online activism? – http://theconversation.com/slacktivism-vs-snarktivism-how-do-you-take-your-online-activism-13180