Young Australians have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic - from their mental health to their employment prospects. In June, youth unemployment soared to 16.1 per cent, with young people's jobs making up a staggering 45 per cent of those lost in May.
The unemployment rate is at its highest level since November 1998, and young people are at the epicentre of the economic and jobs crisis.
Natasha Brock, 22, is one of the thousands of students who will graduate university at the end of the year. She is in her final semester of a three-year Media and Communications degree from RMIT University in Melbourne - a city of five million that is currently living in stage four lockdown.
Natasha’s dream career is working on films for production houses.
When COVID-19 hit, she was working in a small production house for the past four months, and had finally been offered casual employment once a week. She was about to start when it happened. The plague descended, and all those doors that had been opening before her were suddenly slammed shut.
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“It's sad,” she shares, “because there's meant to be a lot of promise and prospect in your last year. You’re meant to be doing a lot of things that will prepare you for the job market, but I feel we didn't really get an opportunity to experience that.”
Learning online is difficult because of the inevitable loss in quality, Natasha says.
“I just haven't had that hands-on education which I’m expected to know from being in a practical degree.
“I was advised at the start of online learning that the quality will not be the same, considering that we aren't completing the practical elements.”
The university offered all students the chance to defer, but Natasha was determined to graduate by the end of the year.
Now, with the state of emergency unfolding in Victoria, she won’t return to campus this year. In October, she’ll complete her last assessment from her living room, and will miss out on a hat-throwing graduation ceremony. But that’s the least of her concerns.
The biggest worry is stepping into a dire job market with nowhere to walk.