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Young Australians living with a disability are twice as likely as their peers to have endured bullying in the past 12 months, according to a newly released report from Mission Australia. 

The charity’s Youth Survey Disability Report has provided some of the nation’s most in-depth insight into how experiences differ for people living with disability aged between 15 to 19 against their counterparts without a disability. 

Notably, the report highlights that young Australians with disabilities are also more prone to mental health concerns.

A quarter of young Australians with a disability reported thoughts of suicide, compared with 13.5% of young people without disability. Similarly, 26% expressed negative or very negative feelings about the future, compared with 11.2% of their peers.

"Overwhelmingly, these findings show young people with disability are more concerned about a range of issues,” Mission Australia CEO, James Toomey, wrote in a media release. “Young people with disability are telling us loud and clear that their experience of growing up and living with disability in Australia is impacting negatively on their lives, their mental wellbeing and their belief in their ability to achieve their goals.”

The report’s education and employment outlooks are more encouraging.

Figures revealed eight in 10 respondents living with disability are studying full time, with nearly 50% citing their intention after school is to go to university. 

However, rates of individuals not engaging in any study is double for young people with disabilities. At the same time, around a quarter of disabled youth say they face a range of barriers when it comes to meeting their goals after school, including issues related to academic ability, against 20% of non-disabled individuals.

Viewing physical health as a barrier to achieving goals after school is similarly rated three times higher for disabled young Australians. 

Mission Australia said the critical findings would be used to promote the development of a National Education Strategy that focuses on disability standards in education and a National Jobs Plan in an attempt to enhance employment assistance for young in-need citizens.

A national advertising campaign promoting the employment of people with disability would also go far in reducing stigma, the report argues. 

“We must act now to ensure a whole of community approach across all life domains, and consult with young people with disability, so we can work together to foster true inclusion and accessibility and better support young people with disability as they transition to adulthood,” Toomey said. “This is more important than ever as the Australian economy picks up after COVID-19 restrictions lift, to ensure that this group of young people doesn’t get left even further behind.”


Demand Equity

Education Access Improves for Young Australians with Disabilities; Bullying Rates Significant: Report

By Madeleine Keck