According to triple j's What's Up In Your World survey, conducted in March, almost 80 per cent of 18–29 year-olds in Australia reckon our politicians aren’t working in the best interests of the country as a whole. We hear ya. It’s pretty common to feel disappointed by the state of the country. The federal election is a great time to claim some control over how the place is run – especially as a young person.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) – those guys in charge of making sure y’all vote – announced that youth enrolment is at an all-time high. This means more young people are set to vote on who gets to run the country!
If it’s your first federal election as a voter – or the first one you give a damn about – it can all be confusing AF. We’re here to help you feel a bit more informed about politics, democracy and policies, so that you’ll know your vote will count.
Here are some practical tips for handling this election like a boss.
1. Who runs the world? You decide
Your vote is a big deal, and is worth giving to someone whose values and policies are in line with yours. With the endless policy announcements, big splashes of cash and campaigning in the media, it can be hard to work out exactly which politician or party stands for what – or even to know what kind of issues you should have an opinion on.
If you’re unsure of who or what to care about, it’s worth spending a bit of time reading up on the big issues. Deciding before you hit the polls who you want to vote for will go a long way to making you feel in control and that you’ve given your vote to the right people.
There are a couple of great sites that can help you nut out exactly what matters to you, and how to link up with a party that cares about the same stuff as you:
- They Vote For You: pop in your postcode and this site will tell you who your local members are and where they stand on (literally) tonnes of different issues.
- Vote Compass: the ABC has put together this quiz to help you work out which party you should vote for. It’s kinda like a Buzzfeed quiz that identifies what kind of cheese you are, except it asks you how you feel about important political issues and then spits out which party agrees with you.
- iSideWith: this is another nifty little quiz that’ll help you identify what social, economic and environmental issues are important to you, and then shows you how to turn that understanding into a vote that’ll matter.
2. Talk the talk
Who says you should never discuss politics with your friends and family? The best way to feel involved in Australia’s political future is to actually be part of the chat. Sit down with your friends and family, explain what matters to you as a young person, and hear what they’ve got to say on the matter. A respectful conversation can help you to feel informed, engaged and ready to tackle the ballot box.
3. Study up before the day
Voting is actually super confusing – there’s the ‘how to vote’ cards thrust at you by keen-as-mustard volunteers as you enter the polling booth, not to mention the ballot papers that can run to over a metre in length, with hundreds of little boxes. What does it all mean?
Luckily, our good friends at the AEC have you covered with a few handy fact sheets to help you get prepped for the big day.
Here’s a handy breakdown of the two voting sheets, to get you started:
- Little voting paper – this is how you vote for a representative in the House of Representatives from the electorate where you live. You need to put a '1' in the box beside your first choice, a '2' in the box beside your second choice and so on. You need to number all the people on this sheet in order of preference for your vote to count.
- Big voting paper – this is how you vote for the senators who will rep your home state or territory in the Senate. You can either vote ‘above the line’ by numbering at least 6 boxes for a party in the order of preference (with 1 being your fave). Or, you can vote ‘below the line’ by numbering at least 12 individual senators in your order of preference.
4. Location, location, location
It may seem obvious, but make sure you check beforehand exactly WHERE you need to go to vote. There’s nothing more annoying than driving around in circles on election day trying to find the right polling station. The AEC has this fab tool that’ll help you work out where you need to turn up, just by popping in a few simple details. And don’t forget to check out Democracy Sausage to find a polling station with a barbecue.
5. Sign up to party down
Joining a political party is the biggest way to throw your support behind the things that matter to you. Once you’ve taken the quizzes above and done your research, you can decide to fully commit and sign up to be a member of a party.
Joining a party entitles you to help shape its policies and direction. It also means you’ll be kept in the loop about events, fundraisers and other ways the party could use your support. It’s a great stepping stone to becoming more politically active.
6. And if it’s all getting a little too much…
Sometimes it can feel like the world is a dumpster fire of bad news – especially if you’re keeping an eye on political news. From the Adani mine dramas and climate change, to immigration and indigenous issues, domestic violence and mental health reforms, there’s a lot to take in. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending news cycle, it’s okay to switch off from the buzz.
Giving yourself a break from the world will help you recharge and reset:
- Taking time out from social media can give your brain a much-needed break. Try to avoid opening Facebook as soon as you wake up, or just before you go to sleep.
- Chatting to friends and family is a great way to feel engaged in the world around you. But don’t feel you have to change other people’s opinions if they differ from yours. If the conversation is getting a bit heavy, take a step back and talk about something else for a while.
- Practising mindfulness is always a good idea, and is a great way to give your mind some TLC. Check out our mindfulness resources here to get started.
- Take a ‘doona day’, where you stay in bed, binge on Netflix, read a book or take a nap.
- Check out our ideas on how to chill for cheap for some creative options that won’t break the bank.
What can I do now?
- Try one of the quizzes on ISideWith or Vote Compass.
- Jump into the forums to chat to other young people about how they’re handling this election – or take a break with one of our games.
- Take a mini break with one of our 2 minute mindfuness meditations.