Definition of Youth

The 2010 National Strategy for Young Australians defines youth in general as 12-24 years of age. Youth is also split into categories for certain measurements. For example, youth economic productivity is measured in two age groups: 15-19 and 20-24.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • 16
  • ++
  • Female
  • 18
  • 16
  • ++

  • Civil unions/partnerships are legal in Australia. Same-sex couples are offered all, most or some of the rights of marriage, depending on state. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 10-14 years, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 10 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  Criminal Code of Australia

Majority Age


Source: Wikipedia

Voting Age


Compulsory voting.
Source:  Inter-Parliamentary Union

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • -- Male (15-24) %
  • -- Female (15-24) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 84.79%Male %
  • 85.78% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • -- Male (13-15) %
  • -- Female (13-15) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The national youth strategy was launched in 2010, underpinned by two reports on youth and policy.

The vision for the national youth strategy is that “all young people grow up safe, healthy, happy and resilient and to have the opportunities and skills they need to learn, work, engage in community life and influence decisions that affect them”. The Compact with Young Australians (2009) is a commitment from the Australian Government, together with state and territory governments, regarding education and skill training for youth under 25.  It seeks to increase qualification and retention levels through initiatives such as the National Youth Participation Requirement, which requires that certain grades be completed as a precondition for obtaining government entitlements, such as the Youth Allowance or the Family Tax Benefit.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Office for Youth is located within the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. It supports policy development, implementation and interdepartmental coordination in areas that affect young people. The office also manages the Australian Youth Forum (AYF), which aims to create a channel of communication between the government, young people and the youth sector. On 16 September 2013, the incoming Cabinet announced that it will no longer include a Minister for Youth, however the Office for Youth is still in existence.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) is a national umbrella association with members that include state, territory and national youth organisations, as well as networks and individuals. Founded in 2002, it is the successor to the Australian Youth Policy and Action Coalition (AYPAC). It is non-governmental, though funded by the federal government. Its activities include advocacy, research and policy development, youth sector development and youth engagement.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
AUD 127.6 million
USD 117.5 million
The 2013-14 budget for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations allocates AUS 127.6 million (USD 117.5 million) to Youth Support (Program 2.8), which includes the Office for Youth. However, on 16 September 2013, the incoming Cabinet did not include Minister for Youth, and it is unclear how the budget will be affected. According to the World Bank, Australia spent 5.12% of its GDP on education in 2009, but does not calculate what this translates to in terms of percentage of government expenditure.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank

Additional Background

From the State of Australia’s Young People (2009):

[Y]oung people aged 12-24 represent one fifth of the Australian population. 28% of all households contain a young person. Indigenous people account for 3.6% of all 15-19 year olds and 2.8% of all young people aged 20-24. Almost one in every hundred is homeless. One in five Australian young people were born overseas – mostly Asia (6.6%) or Europe (2.6%). One in five speak a language other than English at home – mostly an Asian language (10%) or another European language (4%). Just over half of all Indigenous 15-19-year-olds are enrolled in education compared to 76% of non-Indigenous 15-19-year olds. In 2006, 44% of 15-19-year-olds and 69% of 20-24-year-olds were employed. Young women’s income was significantly less than young men’s. At 24 years, women have almost peaked in their earning capacity, while men’s earnings increase considerably as they get older. Almost a quarter of young people are either overweight or obese.