A 20-year-old woman told panellists on last night’s Q+A episode that she genuinely fears for her future as a young person in today’s apocalyptic world. But instead of offering any real solutions, she was told to either just work hard, or consider joining parliament. Great.

Brisbane student Jayde Curtis told Thursday’s panel she lives in a constant state of fear about where her life is headed.

“I work a minimum wage job and study full-time. I live in a constant state that I won’t be able to afford fuel in my car or be able to [buy] groceries or ever get a house,” she said on Q+A.

“Not only this, but there’s talk of war, there’s talk of running  out of fuel, and there’s also still living through COVID.

“Is there any point that I keep studying? That I keep trying? That I keep wanting these aspirations? Or should I just get comfortable in bed?

“Australia used to be a place that I was very happy to say I was a part of and I saw many ambitions here. Should I just get comfortable in this pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque sort of lifestyle or shall I keep going?”

I’m sure Jayde’s not alone in trying to cope with these dilemmas. The climate is changing around us, financial stability feels like it’s on a horizon that won’t get closer no matter how much we run to it, and these days a degree is not a guarantee of a job.

You’d hope the Q+A panellists would have been able to provide some comfort or solutions to Jayde’s (and all of our) predicament, but nope. Instead, one panellist told Jayde to join parliament. And the other told her that actually, there are opportunities, she just needs to find them.

“It is so bloody hard to be a young person in Australia right now; rent is $500 a week in Brisbane and jobs keep getting casualised,” Labor MP Anika Wells said.

“The state of young people and their representation in our parliament is dire … so please, do not get comfortable, get elected — or find one of your peers who you think would be great to represent you and your voice and your people in parliament and get them to Canberra as soon as possible.”

Sooo…. starve or become a politician? Those are the only outcomes?!

Minister for Employment Stuart Robert‘s answer was even worse.

“I’ve got three sons … a 14-year-old, 16-year-old and 12-year-old who constantly tell me they’re stressed as well,” he said. Already, my eyes are glazing over.

“But at the same time, Australia remains the land of enormous opportunity.

“Yes there’s some great uncertainties… as there have been in the past.

“With unemployment at 4 per cent and getting lower, the opportunity for a job is always there, and opportunities in terms of education, for study and for travel — and pre-pandemic all over 11 million Australians travelled — so the opportunities are there.

“It’s just about really embracing them, studying hard, looking for them and seeking support and help if it’s needed.”

Sooo, what I’m getting here is that actually, we’re either imagining our hardships or not working hard enough.

Across the entirety of Australia, only 1.6 per cent of rentals are affordable to a single person who works full-time on minimum wage. Plenty of people have jobs and still can’t afford to live because how hard they work is not actually the problem here. It’s shit wages, inflation, and a capitalist society that prioritises profits over people.

Q+A host Stan Grant asked the pollies for actual solutions, prompting Anika Wells to promise that Labor wants to fix wages.

Stuart Robert, on the other hand, promised tax cuts, recommended getting on support payments and said we need to focus on giving young people more skills. FYI, a report released earlier this week found that no rental properties across Australia are affordable to someone on Youth Allowance. And like I said earlier, the issue here isn’t that young people are unskilled or don’t work.

The only person on the Q+A panel that seemed to have even the barest of a solution was Greens MP Larissa Waters, who said that if we tax billionares and use that revenue to make university and TAFE free, increase welfare payments and subsidise mental health and dental fees, young people might actually stand a chance. Go off queen!

I’m fkn tired of politicians telling young people that this is a meritocracy, and that if we’re struggling we just need to work harder. Are you telling me that people in minimum-wage jobs don’t work as hard as those in high-paying jobs?

Young people are already working hard, probably harder than a lot of of the older generation ever had to.

And even if we weren’t, newsflash: people deserve to be able to afford to live, regardless of if they work or not. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp?