Unfiltered Thoughts: Make it 16

What if we lived in a world where 16-year-olds could not just get a driver’s licence, hold down a job, leave school, move out of home etc. etc. but also had the option to vote?

The Make it 16 campaign is all about lowering the voting age to 16. Yep, you heard that right! They believe that young people, like us, should have a say in shaping the decisions that affect our lives.

Supporters of the campaign are fired up! They think it’s time to break down barriers and empower young voices. They say that including 16-year-olds in the democratic process will bring fresh perspectives, diverse ideas and ensure our concerns are addressed. After all, we’re the ones who will inherit the consequences of decisions made today.

Critics have their reservations. They worry that 16-year-olds might not have enough life experience to make informed choices. Some argue that politics can be complex, and we might not fully grasp the consequences of our decisions at such a young age.

As always, we want your unfiltered thoughts! We want to know where you stand on this issue. Should the voting age be lowered to 16, or do you have concerns about it?

Content Warning

The following unfiltered thoughts may contain themes that might be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can visit our Creating a Safe Space page to see a full list of support services.

 

Sweet Sixteen Wicked Eighteen

I was not too clever at sixteen. But honestly, is there even an age when people magically turn intelligent? Oh, I wish.

I suppose time and experience are the cryptic recipe for wisdom. Unfortunately, human beings are exceptionally good at wasting the first and forgetting the second. Perhaps a few years of age might play a charm on some of us. But time does not only offer: it also breaks. And sometimes, irreparably so.

I was too kind at sixteen.

I believed in impossibly generous heroes and pathetic promises. My heart bled for the world around me, yet my hope healed it at every hit and burn. You might say that hope is the price to pay for growing up. At sixteen, we are arrogantly blind to our fallibility, unable to see beyond our optimism. But it’s not like as soon as we turn eighteen we suddenly become clairvoyant. Confronted with the harsh reality unfolding before their eyes, human beings are too fragile and inert to hold on to their integrity. We adapt to survive and refuse to fight. We are still idiots, just cynical ones.

The world needs clever people, but it tragically falls short of it.

But, above all, the world needs kindness. Let it turn to children.

Caterina (she/her) 25 England

 

The Age of Politics

I’m finally eighteen! I can finally make a difference, although I’ve known the types of politicians I have wanted to support for years.

The political “debates” I have had with my grandfather since I was eleven, consisting of him ranting for five minutes after I say one sentence, have always ended up ineffective. He’s in his late eighties, so I just sit there as he talks about how he thinks queer people are “unnatural” and how trans people are lying to themselves. Unknowingly, he is talking about me being “not right”, and calling many of my friends liars.

This isn’t the most terrifying part to me, however. He doesn’t believe in climate change. Due to this, he doesn’t care about fossil fuels, being a tiny contributor to the destruction of our environment. From what I have seen, my generation is the one that cares the most about climate change, because it is our future, and the responsibility has been given to us to fix our world.

Due to both of these things, I have been politically aware since I was ten years old, and I was more than ready to vote for my future by the time I was sixteen.

Anonymous, 18 USA

 

Children deserve a say in their future

16-year-olds should absolutely be allowed to vote, considering they can learn to drive, get a job, leave school, and also have criminal responsibility. A lot of people don’t consider children an oppressed group, but they are- think about how children are more vulnerable than adults to violence, abuse and neglect and how they often don’t have a choice on decisions that impact them. Allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote would include children’s perspective- something we don’t have in elections yet. Furthermore, these 16 and 17 year olds are the ones who will be our future leaders, and they will inherit the consequences of our current leaders’ decisions (whether good or bad). They deserve to have a say in their future.

Anonymous, 26 VIC

 

Crescents

The Waning Crescents look upon their illustrious life. It is framed in bounty and endless growth. They guard its shadow, teeth bared at even the suggestion of slowing down.
The Waxing Crescents begin to illuminate in the shadow of the waning crescent. Their hands bleed, clawing their way to the next phase while carrying the shadow of bounty.

The Waning Crescents do not relent. They hiss, they growl, they lament. Blood is drawn. The shadows grow bigger. The Waxing Crescents are doomed to remain within them.
“The Waxing Crescents have no experience in life! How could they have a say in politics?” The Waning Crescents ask, the bounty of their youth clutched to their collapsing chests.

Anonymous, 26 ACT

 

The Time is Now

Australia’s led the way in democracy for many years. We were the first country to establish a secret ballot, which became known as the ‘Australian ballot’ globally for the innovative way it kept the voter’s identity a secret. In 1894, South Australia became the second territory (after New Zealand) to allow women to vote, and the first to let women stand for elected office. If we have led the way in the past, why can’t we do it now? Politicians are scared of young people. They know we are loud. They know we are angry. They know full well that, like it or loathe it, we will one day run this world. The time is now for 16- and 17-year-olds to take on their civic duties and vote. It’s time to expand the franchise.

Cooper (he/him), 16 QLD 

 

Voting is a privilege

Wouldn’t it be a privilege for 16-year-olds to have a fair say in the democratic decision-making process?

I believe young people should be given the chance to voice their concerns on issues that matter the most to them. Given the rapid pace of technological advancements and uncertainty in the world we live in, there are emerging issues that are affecting youth today. These include unemployment, health and climate change.

It’s important that diverse perspectives are heard, and policies are enacted to instigate change.

Kayshini (she/her), 26 ACT 

 

Old Enough for Compulsory Voting

I know that many who support lowering the voting age argue that it should be optional for 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. But why is this the case? Why should young people be excluded from having the same obligation to vote as their fellow Australian citizens?

Arguments to lower the voting age have pointed out the fact that a 16-year-old is old enough to pay tax, old enough to hold a driver’s license and old enough to go to prison. What this highlights is that a 16-year-old is expected to have responsibilities and obligations in society, and so should get a say on how society functions. Why are we so quick then to exclude 16-year-olds from the obligation of voting?

I fear that if we advocate for an ‘optional’ vote for 16- and 17-year-olds, we risk diluting what is an incredibly important demand – that young people be recognised as capable citizens that contribute enormous value to our society. Voluntary voting will create two classes of young people; those who vote and those who don’t. Won’t those who don’t vote be demonised? I can already anticipate the criticisms – “we gave them the vote and they won’t even use it!”.

All young people are capable. All young people contribute to our society. All young people should be able to vote. All young people should be required to vote.

Joshua (he/him), 21 WA 

 

What do we really know

I honestly get the arguments to both sides and whilst I believe that todays youth, now more than ever, are able to drive this positive change, questions such as these always make me think. Think about how different the world is, and how rapidly we are evolving. Not to sound like a boomer, but the technological revolution is here, we are living through it, and it’s so crazy to me.

I love learning about psychology at school, reading all the theories of development, learning about Piaget and all that jazz. But part of me feels like it’s so different now. How are we supposed to measure these milestones when young minds have access to so many different forms of social media? Is a child’s development fully different to 20 years ago? How much does this influence them? Will we, as a generation focused on TikTok through our critical developmental stages ever fully reach our potential? Considering all this, are we maturing faster or slower?

16 at a voting age for some people sounds so right, my humanities-loving friends, finally being able to voice their opinions, all the angst of not having a voice taken away. But what do we really know? Will it just cause more harm? Because, at the end of the day, are we just developmentally weird children?

Anonymous, 16 WA

 

EVERY voice deserves to be heard in a democracy

I am volunteering with the Make it 16 campaign, and it is my belief that in NSW voting rights should and must be extended to 16 and 17 year olds. There’s two fundamental principles in which I personally believe are why 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote.

First and foremost, EVERY voice deserves to be heard in a democracy. Voting is about people from different backgrounds and life experiences coming together to create an accurate representation of what we want our society to look like. It’s not just elections – it’s also referendums which will shape what our country looks like for generations to come. By lowering the voting age to 16, we’re allowing more engaged voices to be heard, strengthening our democracy and helping our democratic institutions to make better policy decisions. This benefits everyone.

Second, at 16, you can already make important life decisions and hold important responsibilities. You can drive, consent to sex, consent to medical procedures, leave school or home, learn to drive, pay rent, or work full time. You should have the right to vote.

Fulin (he/him) 17 NSW

 

They’re part of the system too

I’m all for lowering the voting age to 16. At 16, you’re old enough to work, pay taxes, and drive a car in some states. Not only this, the education system is also governed and this is a critical point in their growth and development and it’s important that they have the chance to make a change. So, why shouldn’t they have a say in who runs the country? Decisions made by politicians affect everyone, including younger people. Plus, 16-year-olds today are more informed and engaged than ever, thanks to the internet and social media. They’ve got opinions, ideas, and a real stake in the future. So, why not give them a voice at the ballot box? Lowering the voting age is just common sense to me.

Anonymous, 28 NSW

 

Taylor Swift for President?

As a former 16 year old and current millennial, I will be the first to admit that the soft power 16 year olds hold scares me. When I open any social media platform on any given day, I’m swarmed with armies from BTS to Swifties, with young people expressing their adoration and engagement to their favourite brands and celebrities.

Taylor Swift earlier in the year found herself in a precarious situation with digitally altered images of herself circulating the internet. Before her team could even interfere, an army of fans took matters into their own hands and had the images removed almost entirely from the internet. The soft power this younger generation holds grows every day. Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha also make up a significant portion of the consumerist population; helming the decisions of major brands through their purchasing power. With such great power also comes great responsibility and my fear lies whether this power could be monopolised for greater greed rather than greater good. With the advent of technology and how accessible information has become to young people 24/7, my main fears with lowering the voting age to 16 would be if companies and or celebrity brands would end up manipulating hoards of young people into making the wrong decisions that ultimately harm their future.

The young mind has always impressionable, especially if freebies are involved.

Anonymous, 27 VIC

 

Everyone’s Voice Matters

I firmly advocate for lowering the voting age to 16. At this pivotal age, young people are engaged, informed, and passionate about shaping their future. By granting them the right to vote, we acknowledge their valuable perspectives and give them a voice in decisions that directly impact their lives. Lowering the voting age not only empowers youth but also fosters a more inclusive and democratic society, where everyone’s voice matters regardless of age. It’s time to recognise that 16-year-olds are capable of making informed decisions and deserve a say in the direction of our country.

Crystal (she/her) 27 NSW

 

Let’s focus on our future with an emphasis on choice

If a young person can drive, is able to provide consent and can be sent to prison, why can we not allow them the ability to vote. Young people deserve the opportunity to vote. To be able to make decisions about their future and the future of others.

Young people are smart, courageous and offer invaluable insight which can help shape the future of our world/generations.

And really when you think about it, is it fair to make decisions and choices that impact young people, without allowing them to contribute to this decision making.

I think that it is very important that we allow young people 16-18 years old to have a choice in whether they want to vote. I do not think it should be compulsory as I think it is important that we allow those who want to contribute to have that opportunity, but that we do not force those who have no interest or are uninformed to be forced to vote.

Madieson (she/her), 25 WA 

 

Why Pause at ‘What If’? Empowering 16-Year-Olds to Shape Their Future

Consider a world where 16-year-olds aren’t just seen as the future, but instead as active participants in shaping that future. It’s an intriguing concept, isn’t it? At 16, young people like myself are already taking steps to assimilate themselves into wider society — juggling school, work, volunteering, and responsibilities at home. So why not extend that sense of agency to shaping our collective future? After all, we’re not just passive bystanders; we’re stakeholders with a genuine interest in the outcomes of today’s decisions.

Lowering the voting age isn’t just about empowerment; it’s about recognition and acknowledging that young voices deserve to be heard. By including 16-year-olds in the democratic process, we’re not just opening up the conversation; we’re enriching it with diverse perspectives and youthful ideas.

Of course, there are valid concerns about whether 16-year-olds have the necessary experience and knowledge to make informed choices. However, by enabling youth who are eager to contribute to participate in the voting process, we empower them to actively impact their futures.

So should the voting age be lowered to 16? I believe it’s a question worth exploring. Because when we listen to young voices and empower them to participate, we’re not just building a better future for ourselves; we’re building a stronger, more inclusive democracy for all.

Jyotsna (she/her), 16 NSW 

 

Empowering Youth: Will they take it seriously?

The Make It 16 campaign is all about lowering the legal voting age to 16 years old. Do I personally agree with this? I’m not exactly sure yet. A lot of 16-year old’s these days are a lot more mature than what my generation would have been. They are heavily influenced by social media, celebrities and influencers with fashion, dancing, music, trends and ways to be. I look at them, I look at my sister who is this age and see young people who may be growing up a bit too quickly. It’s a bit scary. Cancel culture is a new development that my generation didn’t grow up with. I think that this, which may be excessive sometimes, could be their power. I believe with this younger generation growing up with social media being so prominent, they are much more exposed to things, good and bad. Particularly, the culture and society we live in, the positives and the negatives affect everyone. I think younger generations are so important to the decisions made in this world, its their future so they should have a voice and that they have every right and ability to understand the decisions made by the country. The real question is, will there be some of this age that may not take it completely seriously, who will joke around or not vote and not take it as a privilege. Is this responsibility of researching (or not even) and deciding on who or what to vote for, too much?

Ada (she/her), 24 SA

 

Responsible Enough

I think that the voting age should be sixteen, personally! As someone from the UK, the age of consent over here is sixteen, and you can drive at seventeen. Why can you drive before you can vote? I think that’s ridiculous. Also, a lot of sixteen-year-olds have jobs, and although most of them won’t make enough money to be taxed on, they are still working and contributing to society. Therefore, if they are responsible enough in the eyes of the law to hold up a job, they should be considered responsible enough to vote, too.

Some claim they’re too young and don’t know who to vote for-yet many adults don’t, either. If we come out of school not knowing who to vote for to run their country, then we should be educated on politics in school, at least on how to register to vote, party manifestos, policies. Here in the UK, they should be signposted to websites such as TheyWorkForYou, to see how their MPs voted.

Young people vote more left-wing, generally speaking, so I reckon Conservative MPS restrict them from voting for this reason while pretending not to sometimes.

Let sixteen-year-olds vote!

Lydia (they/them) 20 UK

 

The Youth are the Future – Can they be the End of It?

Like many political propositions, the call for a lowering of the voting age to 16 is highly controversial. Controversy feeds, first and foremost, on ignorance and this is because it’s easy to create opinions from thin air when the context of an idea is not properly set forth.

The general idea of the lowering of the voting age is good: it aims at a more democratic society that better represents young voices. However, it ignores the ease with which the young can be exploited. This is not to say that the inclusion of 16 and 17-year-olds in elections shouldn’t happen, rather that it cannot be introduced as a standalone policy. Such a change would require better education, protection from misinformation, and all-around, a better grasp of what actually shapes the world. Many young people are stuck in friend-group echo chambers of fascist propaganda that reverberate throughout the halls of youth, turning the adolescent sphere into an ever more stale lot. There can be no space for such things in an already-tumultuous political environment. The youth might be what makes everything shatter if not handled correctly. Seeing as many among the elite profit from misinformation and fascism, it is up to the people to create the revolutionary change that may bring about a more just society that will better fit the needs of all.

Ezra (he/they) 16 Spain

 

16 – Mature Enough?

I don’t think 16 should be the minimum voting age, because I don’t think most people care about or understand politics yet at such a young age – I know I didn’t. I don’t know, maybe I’m just an outlier here, but I’m very cautious about lowering the age. Yes, some people have great ideas that deserve to be considered, but lots of people have harmful attitudes and so the latter group needs more time to mature. I know that affects the people with great ideas, but that’s my take.

Michael (he/him) 18 VIC

 

Future Changemakers Deserve Their Say

Allow me to paint you a picture.

You are 16, you are able to drive, you are able to leave school, you are the legal age of consent. All the responsibility and the life you could only dream of, however one detail is missing – you can’t vote. Weird to think about, right? That at 16 you can do all of the above, in many ways 16 is the start of adulthood and maturity, yet you are not allowed to vote, you aren’t allowed to be a part of one of the most important roles of our society.

I know people complain, saying “Oh, 16-year-olds have no idea what they’re talking about… they don’t know who or how to vote.” However, you could not be more wrong. As a 17-year-old, I can personally say the almost daily conversations my peers and myself are having surround politics. We know what we want to see in our future, the changes we want to see in our world. This is why the ‘Make It 16’ campaign is so crucial. We, as the teens of today, the future generation of changemakers, should be involved in these decisions, we have a right to have our voice heard.

If we are old enough to drive, to leave school, to consent, we are old enough to vote.

Don’t make laws about us, without us.

Kai (he/him) 17 QLD

 

A Fresh Voice

When I was 16 my biggest decision was whether or not I should drive to school to increase my log book hours or catch the bus. Nowadays, 16 year old’s have come a lot further. They seem different than we were back then. They are more willing to use their voice for purpose rather than hide behind a screen. Obviously there is the occasional being that could not care less about the world they live in or how they can be apart of the change for the next generation. But majority of 16 year old’s now have a mature and knowledgeable head on their shoulders, so why not use their voice to support our children’s future? They are at such a critical age where majority of their opinions and beliefs about the world are taking shape and they are motivated to let others hear their reasons why. If it means encouraging others to critically reflect on their own beliefs and how they differ from that of the next generation, then why not? Let them vote!

Rebecca (she/her) 24 ACT

 

Teens deserve to have a voice

In high school, I participated in a project that encourages groups of high school students to make real change in society. My group decided to focus on young voters. Voter turnout is low among the youngest age bracket, and we thought this was because 18-year-olds go through massive life shifts: voting becomes just a complication. In school we learned how to vote, but couldn’t put that lesson into practice until at least a year later. Enabling students to vote while they’re actively engaged in learning about democratic process would empower young voters. They’d to start the habit of fulfilling their civic duty on the right foot, with support the whole way through.

My state’s congressmen claimed that 16-year-olds aren’t mature enough to vote. However, I know many 16-year-olds who are more mature than most adults. Sixteen-year-olds deserve a voice because it’s their futures at stake. They deserve a say about education funding because they’re the ones who will actually face the consequences of those decisions. Many 16-year-olds work jobs and pay income tax to a government they have no representation in. It’s been 10 years since I’ve been 16, but I still believe in the competence and maturity of teens.

While young, they face the real world every day. They understand that their voice matters. Why are we repressing that voice?

Rook (they/them) 26 USA

 

Rimbaudry

I knew everything by age 16 and it was only the doubt that comes with each passing day that has turned me into a 27-year-old wreck. I was a brown Rimbaud, but time, tide, and the ticking closer of death and taxes turned me to the many other faces you pass when walking down the street. In fact, had the world been handed to me at 16 (and by the world I mean trust and freedom) maybe I’d have fared better and not turned to drink and destruction to lend me a kind voice or a shoulder to cry on. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Sameen (he/him) 27 Nepal

 

Voice of the Young

I think it’s a fairly universal childhood experience to want to grow up. To marvel over the independence, freedom and power of those around us. To desperately wish the years away.

It’s only through adolescence that we are able to appreciate the beauty that is immaturity and the bliss that is ignorance. We become plagued by stressors and worries regarding the lives we will grow into. Fretting over our path beyond and our ultimate powerlessness over it.

Rushed to make our own decisions and plan our futures and make connections and learn and mature and love and explore and have it all figured out. Hyperaware of what is expected of us to become a ‘success’, and judged from every angle.

Yet still denied a real voice.

Simultaneously too immature to be taken seriously, yet more and more ‘wise beyond years’. Simultaneously too careless, yet overly invested in trivial matters. Simultaneously too inexperienced, yet blessed with opportunities past generations only dreamed of.

Perhaps for the majority, 16 is too young. Perhaps I even agree with current limitations. But not for all, and I think that the views of the future at least deserve to be heard.

Rachael (she/her) 21 WA

 

Dissonance at its most basic level of meaning

Voting has been such a sacred part of our society for many years. Everyone who graduates from year 12 registers to vote. It’s a tradition, one with a hard and fast age requirement. I see it as being like height requirements for roller coasters. If you don’t meet it, you don’t get to ride. But then again, the voting age isn’t protecting someone from falling off the Hair Raiser. It’s about responsibility, and levels of arguably more important responsibility are already awarded in other places of society to people below that voting age. I’m talking about driving a CAR! You perceive these people as being mentally and politically incompetent and yet you put the literal lives of human beings in their hands? That’s just dissonance at its most basic level of meaning. People aged 16 are far more aware of their surroundings than people think they are. 16-year-olds advocate, they protest, they strive for change and tackle with imbalance. Their shoulders are worthy of the added responsibility of voting, for they can already bear even greater duties.

Joshua (he/him), 19 NSW

 

Voting is a Right, but the Right Vote is a Luxury

Decreasing the voting age to 16 increases diversity in voices – no doubt about that. We introduce young people to engage in democracy and civil action, giving them a chance to discuss these issues with family and friends. We definitely need more progressive and innovative perspectives. Lowering the voting age to 16 provides a great chance for young people to engage in democracy, but I don’t think participating in elections early on is the right way to do that. There simply isn’t enough time or support to think and reflect independently.

What are 16 year olds up to? We might be in high school, overthinking about grades, future and work. We might have stuff happening at home. We might be trying to find ourselves, friends or even find love. Most of us still live at home or at school, where our friends and family play a significant role in shaping our opinions. Our voting choices might be influenced more by what others are doing rather than personal reflection. Sure, some of us have the time to think about the greater good, but I really think those are the lucky ones who have the privilege of a supportive environment to do so.

Anonymous, 23 QLD

 

Every year I think about how little I knew the year before

Being 22 myself, I can still remember being 16 and being convinced that I was ahead of my age and thinking I was very intelligent, where in reality every year since then I look back and laugh about how little I really knew. I’m also almost certain 16 year old me didn’t even know who our current prime minister was, or the simple differences between the different political parties, let alone did I care. Lowering the voting age would essentially add a ton of dummy votes in my opinion.

Jennifer (she/her), 22 WA

 

Opt-in for Voting

I can drive. I can go to jail. I can get involved and sign up for political parties, I can even take an ATAR course on Politics and Law. But I can’t actually vote. In 218 days, I will be able to. But until then, I wait.

But that’s me. I’ve always been interested in change. And not everyone is, and I respect that. I’m sure you can think of some 16 year olds that you *don’t* want influencing the future. Which is why I say voting should be optional for 16 and 17 year olds.

The most important thing in voting is giving the people a voice – but the common argument against Making it 16 is that we reiterate the voices of our parents, and haven’t found our own opinions. But if we made it optional, it is likely that those who are more educated on politics will vote, reducing the chances of voting blindly.

Taryn (they/them), 17 WA

 

Self-imposed age limits

I’m gonna stop being politically active at 50 (if I live that long) because at that point, I want the next generation to take over. It’s unfortunate I haven’t had my say to a degree where I could have made changes in the way society operates.

But that isn’t what I want for my peers and juniors. I would hate to be the old fuck standing in the way of what the next caretakers of our wide and wonderful world want for it.

Anonymous, 27 VIC

 

It’s time

I believe that one’s teenage years are a pivotal time in one’s life. I’m recent years sixteen year old have been forerunners in environmental activism, mental health advocacy and so much more. Sixteen year olds are smarter and more capable than they look. I believe it’s high time we heard their voices in politics. I believe that giving them the opportunity to vote will not only be very empowering for them but it will also lead to social change. This will be a win win for everyone. They should be allowed to make decisions in matters that affect the future they will inherit.

Anonymous, 16 VIC

 

Change in times

Today is a world that is revolutionary and things are changing and so should certain norms. In todays world, I believe 16 year old’s are mature and can think critically so I don’t think it is a big deal for them to vote. If they can drive and even rent an apartment what stops them from voting? If it is a simple process and they can easily understand, I believe that this is acceptable. If the government doesn’t understand times are changing, there is no growth in society. We need to stand our ground. I think what can be done is more awareness because lots of people would disagree but these are things that we need to look at. Each year tons of old people go to vote but it is not even their future at hand. I believe 16 year old’s should start voting to pave a better and bright future for themselves.

Anonymous, 21 VIC

 

Leave it to the oldies

Teenagers don’t need to vote. Not all 16 year old’s are into politics, and honestly not all of them care.  What difference will it make to have 16 and 17 year old’s voting? Compared to the millions of other voters, it will make a mere difference in the outcome. At 16, there shouldn’t be a responsibility or mandate that it’s necessary to vote; realistically, I believe many would quite simply not vote and would then cop a fine!

Social media is very good at persuading the younger generation, and politicians and parties could use this to their advantage to get the wrong point across to younger people – I mean, they do it already and we are older and not as easily blinded to their lies. Leave the politics to the older people, because lowering the voting age isn’t gonna do much apart from cause unnecessary stress. Let the teenagers be teenagers.

If 16/17 year old’s would like to vote, maybe it would be reasonable to have an exception where the individuals who would like to vote, can apply online for an exemption to allow them to vote whilst underage.

Anonymous, 21 VIC

 

What has changed?

I am 16; today is my birthday… It’s very weird. It’s weird in the sense that my life just sped by in a matter of milliseconds. The last time I remember or even felt life was when I was 12. It feels like yesterday that I was 12. It was yesterday when COVID was announced on the TV, watching the news anxiously, locked away in the confines of my own home.

I turned 16 today, but I still feel 12. Today, as I turned 16, Mum and Dad went out to vote for the new premier of our state. ‘Hey, Mum, why can’t I vote?’ I asked. ‘Because you are not 18 yet; you need to be an adult.’ What a weird answer. Does that mean that laws only apply to adults, since it’s them who vote and not us? Clearly, all the rules, regulations, and laws won’t apply to us—the action, the cause, the effect—none of those apply to us. I will just ‘wait for the future’ and start from 0.

It’s the next day; I am 18, today is my birthday… It’s very weird. It’s weird in the sense that my life just sped by in a matter of milliseconds. The last time I remember or even felt life was when I was 16. It feels like yesterday that I was 16. But I’m 18, so what has changed? ‘Hey, son, let’s go vote; this will be your first voting now that you have become an adult.’ Today, I’m 18; yesterday, 16; the day before, I was 12. What… has… changed?

Anonymous, 18 VIC

 

No choice but to have a voice

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called Youth v Gov. Based in the US, this documentary recounts the journey of 21 plaintiffs aged between 13-24 who are suing the US government for its negligence in safeguarding their future and creating the climate crisis. Watching this documentary made me realize how we, as young people, have been fighting since a young age for our most fundamental rights. In the case of indigenous communities, it’s access to basic life amenities like cleaning drinking water. In the case of young women, it’s the reproductive wars that rage against their autonomy. In the case of trans youth, it’s the right to basic opportunities that they are systemically denied access to.

While one might argue that age, lack of maturity, and life experience are definitive factors in not allowing young people to vote, I firmly believe that young people today are more informed, involved, and integrated into the inner workings of present-day society. Mainly because, they don’t have a choice but to have a voice.

Hashwina (she/her), 26 VIC

 

Different Sixteens

I would understand why those aged 16 to 17 years old want to have a say in shaping the governmental decisions that will ultimately affect them as well. However, knowing what I was like when I was still 16/17, I would literally have no knowledge or clue about political issues or “who is the best suited party” to rule. I also understand that in today’s day and age, teenagers are more exposed to social media than ever before; it is easy for them to be kept up-to-date about things of the world, political parties from other countries even. Currently, this topic is not a strict no from me, but it would definitely be apt to have a tea session with those of this population, and hear them out on their thoughts regarding why they feel that they have the capacity and right at their age to vote for the government they want.

Law (she/her), 22 QLD

 

Taxation without representation?

Lowering the voting age to 16 is a proposal that has gained momentum in recent years, with compelling arguments in favour of this change. Advocates assert that granting 16-year-olds the right to vote is a logical step towards fostering greater youth engagement in the democratic process and encouraging civic participation from an early age.

At 16, many young individuals are already assuming responsibilities such as paying taxes, working, and even driving. The world has experienced a revolutionary war in which an entire nation rebelled against their colonial overlords for ‘taxation without representation’, yet a similar instance can be witnessed here. 16 year olds are affected by political decisions, from education policies to environmental regulations, and should thus have a say in shaping the future they will inherit. Lowering the voting age could provide an avenue for them to voice their concerns, aspirations, and opinions directly through the ballot box.

Some may argue that 16-year-olds lack the maturity and experience to make informed decisions, perhaps too easily swayed by emotions or demagoguery. While this may certainly be the case, it can be argued that lowering this voting threshold would actually encourage political and civic awareness in younger generations, counteracting this issue in Australia. This early exposure to voting may lead to lifelong participation in the democratic process, bolstering overall voter turnout in the long run.

Lowering the voting age to 16 could invigorate democracy by fostering political engagement among youth, allowing them to influence decisions that directly impact their lives, and promoting a culture of active citizenship from an early age.

Jeremy, 20 QLD

 

Broader Perspectives, Better Possibilities

I’m definitely in favour of trialling an opt-in voting system for 16–18-year-olds. You’re able to vote, but you’re not fined if you don’t.

We encourage under-18s to get involved in voting in every way but the one that counts – candidates have young volunteers for their parties, you can register to vote from 16, and school SHOULD have equipped you with basic research capabilities and an understanding of democracy by then. Why not trust young people to fully engage in the society that demands their participation?

And to be honest, I trust most 16-year-olds to make choices for a better world than I do most people over 30. Young people are brilliant, talented, intelligent and capable. They have a valuable and unique perspective to offer to our communities. The broader the perspectives we contribute, the better the possibilities for improvement.

Brianna (she/her), 24 QLD

 

16 is too old.

By the age of 16, todays children have already matured. Not by choice, but by necessity. By 16, a child has already cried themselves to sleep. Another has had their innocence stolen and their worldview shattered. Some have been spat on and cast out because of who they are, while others are beaten and imprisoned for their skin. By 16, there is a child who sleeps on park benches, stomach tearing apart from the emptiness. If a 16 year old can have bruises from someone who said they cared, why can’t they try and make a difference. We are so completely powerless, and we have no way to change this, no way to have our voices heard in our government. No adult could ever understand the pining heart of a young teenager, frustrated and silent, we need to be heard. Our adult population is baffled as teenagers starve to the bone as they stare at the perfection in their phones, yet they don’t try and ask, don’t let us speak. Frankly, 16 is too old. Teenagers deserve to be able to impact law. If we can bare the burdens of the world, then at the very least we should be able to have a vote. Lowering the voting age is a small step, and so much more has to be done, but at the very least, please hear our voices.

Nathaniel (they/them), 17 QLD

 

Its about competence NOT age

We have sent young men to war before during WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam often as young as 16 and I believe you can enlist with parental permission under 18 still

When you work or spend money you are for paying taxes (Income and GST) you didnt vote for.

When you have a drivers license or industrial license e.g. Hoist or Forklift ticket you are expected to abide safety laws you didnt vote for.

You can get married and even have children under 18 and again you didnt vote for surrounding laws.

Its not about age however and there are plenty of both competent and incompetent under 18 people but I would also argue that this is true for 18+ people as well.

Voting should be based on competence and the ability to understand the political issues of the day and this would also mean that the moment you are no longer competent due to age or illness then you should no longer vote. This is particularly important if you no longer have a longitudal stake in society or if an issue effects younger people more e.g. climate change then older people voting have little stake in the outcome since they will be dead before the impacts are really felt.

Perhaps voting by way of right is not a good idea i.e. look at the US and should remain a civil duty but only given to someone upon completion of competency test.

James (he/him), NSW 32

 

The change we need

At 16 my mother broke down in front of me. For the first time in my life, I realised that I am not the only person going through life for the first time. Every person is experiencing life through the motions for the first time. All 8 Billion of us across the globe. What does this mean you may ask? Mistakes will be made, discussions will be acknowledged and not everything will always go as planned. When I turned 16 everyone said you won’t feel any different and hey, they weren’t exactly wrong because I was still viewed as a child, still treated as if I know nothing, as if my voice and opinions were ones of a toddler. Yet my body was old enough. My mind was old enough.

A woman when she reaches 16 is said to reach adulthood. It is recognised and celebrated in many cultures and religions as she ‘comes of age.’ Yet, she isn’t really an adult. Ask anyone why 18 is when you truly reach adulthood and they will say ‘I don’t know it just is,’ or ‘at 18 you have had enough life experience to be an adult,’ but what about those who were thrown into adulthood at a young age? At 16 I found what it meant to be an adult. As I sat there with my own mother weeping in my arms because of what I had done I understood in that moment that age and life experience are not an indicator of your knowledge or understanding of the world around you. Watching these powerful people I surround myself with prove time and time again that their voices need to be heard and that our generation understands what is happening and wants to help only to be silenced and cut off because we are children? The deafening silence that adults have pushed onto our voices in fear that what we have to say will be the truth? That is what it means to be our generation. They say that we are not adults and I agree with them. We aren’t adults. We are the difference. We are the future.

Change is scary, and for every single person in this world going through life for the first time. That potential change doesn’t want to be found. But the way we are heading has no backwards or pause. Change is the only way to move forwards and it’s time to acknowledge that the younger generation is that change. Age isn’t just a number, but it should not define our say in our future. At 16 years old I understood that the only way to continue was for things to change. For my say to mean something. This generation is where things turn and that starts with lowering the voting age. 16 may not be an adult, but that does not mean that they are not ready to have a say.

Our voices are loud and it’s time to let us use them. Let our voices be heard as we take control of the only thing we have. Our future. Lower the voting age and let us prove that we can be loud enough to make a difference.

Ashleigh (she/her), 18 WA 

 

Why 16 Year Olds Should be Allowed to Vote (by a previous 16-year-old)

Personally, when I was still at the ripe old age of 16, the only responsibility I really had was towards my own grades at school. Thinking about how long 16 years is, we might think that they have more than enough life experience to be voting and doing all sorts of things. Though looking at the bigger picture, 16 years isn’t that long at all. Despite this, we now live in an age where information can be accessed anywhere at any time, the children of my generation have grown up with the internet and we’re STILL growing up with it. We’ve become the generation with the most access to information ever, and I think our laws need to change to fit that. The world is changing and rather than only relying solely on the older generation, we should look to younger people who will inevitably inherit the world and allow them to make their impact.

Owen (he/him), 18 NSW 

 

Lower the voting age!

I’m proud to support the movement to lower the Australian voting age to 16. Young people face various challenges and issues that profoundly impact our lives and the future we will inherit. From climate change and environmental sustainability to education reform, mental health support, and economic opportunities, these issues directly affect us and our peers. Plus, we’d also be encouraging civic engagement, increase political education, and ensure our concerns are taken seriously.

By lowering the voting age, young people would actually be able to have a say in decisions that will shape our lives and the world we will grow up in. We deserve to have a voice in shaping policies that address the issues we deeply care about and impact our everyday reality.

Crystal (she/her), 26 NSW

Posted in