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Young SA's huge cultural and language diversity

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An annual snapshot of the country’s 15 to 19-year-olds has shone a light on the enormous cultural diversity in South Australia and the key concerns of the state’s young people.

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The 2015 Mission Australia’s Youth Survey found that some 50 languages other than English were spoken in SA homes with Vietnamese, Chinese, Mandarin, Italian and Cantonese the most common.

About 20 per cent of the people who responded to the survey were born overseas.

Just over 93 per cent of those surveyed were studying full time with many planning to attend university (66 per cent). Most were satisfied with their studies (56.2) and were “very” (38.4) and “somewhat” (40.3) confident in achieving their study and work goals.

On the flipside, coping with stress (41) was their top concern, followed by study and school (36.7) and body image (26.4). One in five respondents were either extremely or very concerned about depression and family conflict.

Least of their concerns were gambling (87.4 per cent not at all concerned), drugs (75.4) and alcohol (73).

Almost half of respondents (49.7) were not at all concerned about bullying or emotional abuse.

Of the 2758 young South Australians who took part in the 14th annual survey, 53.6 per cent were female.

Five per cent of participants identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

SA’s youth valued friendships (74.5) and family (72.6) more highly than school or study satisfaction (68.5) and physical and mental health (60.8), financial security (40) and getting a job.

Mission Australia’s SA director Amanda Hunt said body image continued to rate as a substantial concern for young women.

“We are learning more about real-life impacts social media can have on self-esteem by setting unhealthy and unrealistic pressures on impressionable youth,” Hunt said.

“It’s definitely an issue that has to be tackled and addressed seriously to help youth better navigate the influences and pressures placed on them in the online realm.”

This year 18,994 young people across Australia provided Mission Australia with a snapshot of how the next generation was faring.

National area manager SA Adam Sherwood said the information would be used to develop programs to help young people.

“It is crucial the state remains focused on delivering independent and flexible learning services to help upskill and build confidence in disadvantaged youth,” Sherwood said.

“Not only do such programs encourage young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity or desire to re-engage in school and studies, they also offer real world learning and skills that can generate employment opportunities.”

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