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Uncertainty looms for millennials as housing and jobs make prospect of a family difficult

Equipping youth: Millennial Catholic-to-be and Young Political Advocacy Training alumni Rebecca Anderson, pictured with Robert Schroeders. Ms Anderson strong advocates the review of government policies that make it harder for young people to pursue a family, including the cost of housing and job security.

REBECCA Anderson is preparing to enter the Catholic Church in the near future, and one day, would like to see her own children accept the faith.

But standing in the way of the 28 year old’s goals is the reality that raising a family in Brisbane will cost more than she can afford.

Ms Anderson is among a growing number of millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – who believe the economic climate is delaying their chances of marrying and having a family before 30.

An analysis by the Pew Research Centre in the United States released last month showed millennials were marrying later in life than previous generations, and subsequently, having children later in life too.

According to the report, Ms Anderson is the same age as the average woman who first got married last year.

She said the lack of affordable housing and long-term steady wages was a real obstacle for her and other millennial Christians who felt called to marry and have a family.

“I think the main thing, and something I think about myself for the future, is a lack of affordable housing and good, long-term, steady paying jobs,” Ms Anderson said.

“If we want to encourage people to get married and have children – to be the building blocks of society – it’s very difficult to do that if you don’t have a good income and don’t have anywhere to live.

“It makes it hard to move your life forward when there doesn’t seem much hope in those type of things.”

Ms Anderson said if the government addressed issues like housing affordability and wage growth, not only would her future become clearer, but such policies would also support families who feel anxious about having children, particularly those who believe abortion is their only option.

“The thing is, financial pressure does make things a lot harder for families,” Ms Anderson said.

“That can manifest in all sorts of ways.

“For the pro-life issues I’ve been very involved with, say a couple with several children who get pregnant again – the question they ask is should we be keeping the baby?

“Most people don’t.”

Putting faith into action

On top of praying for her future, Ms Anderson is a firm believer that she can influence the policies that affect the lives of young people through political activism.

She is among a growing number of young Christians who have participated in the Young Political Advocacy Training, a crash course in political engagement run by the National Civic Council.

This year’s course, which was offered online this past weekend due to COVID-19 restrictions, featured a talk specifically for millennials, and how they could overcome hurdles towards raising a family.

NCC Queensland president Luke McCormack said YPAT showed young Christians that their faith can inform practical decisions, like purchasing a home or navigating the moral dilemmas they might face in their career.

“We often think of practicing our faith as something that’s completely separate from our everyday lives and any practical issues we might encounter,” Mr McCormack said.

“We hope that by running YPAT, we can show that it’s actually the complete opposite.

“How can you accept the children God gives your family if you can’t afford a home? What happens when a young person wants to enter a certain profession but finds they are obliged to go against their conscience in certain areas? Our faith and values should inform all of the decisions we make.”

Student debt makes for stressful future

YPAT alumni Martin Bradley, a Baptist, said his university degree left him with “a bit of paper, a very nice photo and a whole lot of student debt”.

He now works in food processing, which is unrelated to his degree, but because he is contracted out by a labour-hire firm he has no job security and cannot plan for holidays.

Worse still, his chances of obtaining a mortgage are slim to none with his current employment.

“Gone are the days of stable, reliable employment which you could build a family upon,” Mr Bradley said.

He said more Christians needed to speak up about issues which adversely affect the future for millennials.

“I feel as society continues to lose its cultural ‘Christian’ veneer, Christians are starting to realise that they must be engaged with political, cultural and society,” he said.

“It’s massively important that we don’t remain silent any longer.”

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