Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett is a 16 year old high school student from Inglewood and has thrown his support behind YMCA’s Why not campaign.
He said “I believe for too long young people have been intentionally excluded from the big decisions in Australia. The YMCA Why Not campaign seeks to reverse this - it addresses the problem at its root by asking us how we feel and what we believe, reminding us that our points of view are valid. The Why Not Campaign amplifies our voices and I believe it will really make a difference."
Oscar is passionate about the first three issues that have been raised by the campaign with all affecting him personally.
In regards to marriage equality Oscar said “As someone who is in a same-sex relationship, the issue of equal marriage rights isn't just political for me. It's personal. Not being able to have the option of marriage available for me and the person I love really hurts. I believe the achievement of marriage rights needs to happen as soon as possible.”
He adds “The thing is, when me and my partner are accepted by friends, family and peers, it's comforting and we're grateful for it. But fundamentally, at the highest level, in the eyes of the law, it still feels like we aren't accepted and that we aren't enough.”
In YMCA’s Voice of Young People in Australia Report 2017, mental health was seen as the most concerning issue for young people today. 80% of young people felt that their voices are not being heard on mental health issues.
Oscar said, “Mental health is an issue that is close to my heart. Having seen close friends and family struggle with mental health problems, for me it isn't even a question that we need to do more to support young people.”
His major concern that he would like addressed is the stigma associated with having a mental illness.
“The extent to how widespread the stigma against mental health issues is concerning. The stigma which doubts, devalues or entirely dismisses the struggles of people suffering with mental illness is toxic and has led to a great deal of suffering.”
Oscar recognises the steps that have been taken to raise awareness about mental health as an important issued as within his peer group he has noticed young people finding more support in their school environment.
As a 16 year old high school student the issue of youth unemployment is already a concern to Oscar and his friends.
“I find the issue of youth unemployment to be worrying. When young people are locked out of the workforce they find themselves demoralised and disenfranchised. Leaving a significant portion of the population out of employment can have long term effects on their ability to be productive and constructive members of society.”
“I think a significant part of the issue when it comes to youth unemployment is the attitudes employed towards it. From parents to politicians, blame is liberally dispersed on young people who can't find work. They are shamed with labels, deemed totally and unquestionably responsible for their situation, or worse, subjected to welfare cuts or poorer services. This is not a sustainable way to approach unemployment, and it fails to solve the issue.”
Oscar and his friends are almost at the end of their high school years and are questioning the pathway of more education. He said “I find it extremely discouraging for young people to study for years only to face unemployment, it removes the incentive for young people to go to university or TAFE which only further harms their job prospects.”
YMCA is asking Australia ‘Why Not,’ on three issues young people have said they want addressed as a priority being youth unemployment, mental health and marriage equality.
YMCA WA CEO Ross Kyrwood said: “Young people have and always will shape the future, but only when they are inspired, empowered and heard. We hope that through this campaign YMCA can be the vehicle to highlight important issues that young people care deeply about.”
To find out more about YMCA’s Why Not campaign go to www.whynotorg.au