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7 Ways Young Aussies Are Being Screwed Over By Older Generations

"Job security is increasingly something that only older Australians can understand."

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Inequality does not only split along generational lines, but 29-year-old former federal political adviser Jen Rayner believes young Australians are fast becoming the first generation since the Depression to be worse off than their parents.

Rayner, who authored Generation Less: How Australia is Cheating the Young, has called on policymakers to start addressing the yawning gaps in home ownership, university fees, political influence and debt rates between Baby Boomers and their children.

"We don't hold our parents responsible for the opportunities they were given but we will hold them accountable if they don't stand with us in making change."

Here are seven ways older generations are screwing us.

Australia's youth unemployment has remained high since the peak of the global financial crisis - at an average of 11.2% - while the general unemployment rate sits at 5.7%.

Underemployment has become a mammoth issue for young Australians.

"In 1978 one in 30 young people were underemployed and now it is one in six," Rayner told BuzzFeed News.

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Obviously older people earn more than young people, but the growth in your parents' wages over their lifetime has been much faster than the growth for younger Australians.

Weekly earnings for under-25s grew by just 25% over the past 25 years, while increasing 59% for people in their early 50s.

In today's money, that means in 1990, a 20-something worker who got a job before the recession hit earned just over $750 a week and a 55-year-old earned about $970.

Fast forward to 2013 and a full-time worker in their early 20s earns $943 while a 55-year-old's earnings have ballooned to $1557.

"There have always been these gaps between younger and older people but these gaps are actively getting bigger," Rayner says.

Well, some of them.

Tertiary education fees were abolished for 15 years in 1974, meaning many older Australians got their degrees for free - including a lot of the politicians currently pushing to deregulate university fees.

When the Hawke government reintroduced uni fees they were set at $3500 in today's money.

Today's medical student leaves university lugging around $50,000 in student debt. It's $18,000 for a philosophy student.

Rayner warns "things are going to get worse" if uni fees are deregulated.

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The rise of technology is not enjoyed solely by millennials; our parents can just as easily buy an iPhone, download SnapChat or FaceTime their mates.

Australia doesn't ban old people from Netflix (and chill), criminally cheap clothing or easy travel.

In fact, Rayner points out, in many ways globalisation and the technological boosts in productivity have benefited them first: “Today’s 20-something barista isn’t much more productive than his 1980s predecessor, but a late-50s corporate lawyer is likely raking in far more cash for her firm now than in the past."

"There were lots of jobs which were low-skill, entry-level jobs in clerical work or manufacturing, where you could get training on the job and work your way up the factory, and those jobs have been taken offshore or taken over by technology," Rayner said.

"Job security is increasingly something that only older Australians can understand."

The superannuation savings gap between young and old has widened by $78,000 for people under 25 and by $70,000 for people in their late 20s and early 30s.

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The rate of home ownership for under 35s has plummeted over the past three decades, figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found last month.

"When my parents were leaving home a house cost three times the average income and today it is seven times the average income," Rayner said.

More than half of all 25-34-year-old Australians are now renting.

Rayner encouraged young people to get involved in "any sort of activism" to change the housing market.

"Otherwise probably just wait for your parents to die."

By 2055 the number of Australians aged over 65 is set to double.

Meanwhile the average age of our decision-makers is rising.

Bob Hawke staffed his first ministry with Paul Keating (then 39) and Susan Ryan (41) when the average age around his cabinet table was 47.

Two decades later the average age of a minister in the Abbott cabinet was 53.

"If the decision-makers are getting older and the electorate is getting older that means young people's voices are getting harder to be heard."

Rayner will be speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas on September 3 in Sydney.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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