Technology the answer to young people’s problems

Technology the answer to young people’s problems

Press Release: The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Young Australians are at crisis point because of a technological generation gap - according to a new organisation set up to improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s young people.

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (YAW-CRC) has been established to investigate the role of technology in young people’s lives and how it can be used to improve the mental health and wellbeing of 12 to 25 year olds.

Based in Melbourne, the YAW-CRC is a world first collaboration that brings together researchers, not-for-profit organisations, government and industry partners with young people.

During the next five years YAW-CRC will conduct a number of research projects to help address issues relating to:

Cybersafety and fostering respectful relationships online Youth suicide, with a focus on young men Problematic alcohol and other drug use in young people Discrimination and violence towards marginalised groups of young people Eating disorders in young people

Young people living with a disability or chronic illness

According to the Centre’s CEO, youth mental health expert Associate Professor Jane Burns, unless we as a community learn to help young people at risk in their own language – that of digital technology – we are facing a lost generation of troubled youth.

“We know that whilst 95% of young Australians spend up to 3 hours daily engaging with different forms of technology, predominantly social media, almost none of the solutions to the issues faced by these same young people are being tailored for technology,” Associate Professor Burns said.

“Adults can talk about worrying issues such as cyber bullying, binge drinking and youth suicide, but the solutions can only come by working directly with young people to understand their needs and to develop creative technology solutions that are most helpful to them.”

Associate Professor Burns said the unique idea that young people should be at the centre of creating solutions is crucial to the Centre’s success.

“We have already set up the Youth Brains Trust (YBT), a group of 19 young people aged 12 to 25 years from diverse backgrounds across Australia whose ideas and concerns will help build the powerhouse of ideas to drive our CRC,” she said.

This group will work alongside over 70 partners from a mix of large and small not-for-profit organisations; youth researchers from universities; innovative thinkers from Industry, business and government; and mental health advocates.

Twenty-year-old Youth Brains Trust member, Bronte, has lived with bi-polar disorder and believes technology has the capacity to help young people receive access to quality mental health care at the right time.

“Identifying the ways in which support and the promotion of wellbeing can be offered through technology is vital in a society where technology is so important to how we learn, connect and interact,” Bronte said.

The Young and Well CRC will be officially launched in Melbourne this week by Senator The Hon Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research following a 2-day summit beginning today, which involves over 200 researchers and participants in the CRC. 

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