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Book Review: Generationless-How Australia Is Creating the Young
It is time to decide what kind of future we want for this Country.
Will it be one where young Australians enjoy the same opportunities to build stable secure lives as one's parents and grandparents had? And can we still do the right thing by the elderly without making second class citizens of the young?-Jennifer Rayner
Purpose of this Book
The author Jennifer Rayner reaches out to her readers in a warm, earthy manner giving both personal accounts of her own life experiences, her friends together with researched facts and figures obtained through governmental departments and institutions about the growing intergenerational gap we have in our Australian society between the young and the prosperous, secure 60-something grey haired brigade.
Jennifer Rayner was a student struggling with University studies and working in insecure casual jobs in the low-end service sector of hospitality and retail. Marrying at 23. Followed by having a child; only by accidental inheritance from a bachelor uncle dying, a lump sum bought their house; followed by divorce at 28; entering the rental market again but this time as a single mother; followed by, writing this book Generationless at 30 years of age.
The young (20 to 30-year-olds) are no different to their parents and grandparents (the grey-haired brigade). The 20 to 30 year olds have the same emotional and material goals as their parents and grandparents. But the author sees this to be impossible if things don’t change.
The author’s generation is the first Australian generation becoming the first in over 80 years to go backwards in work, health and well-being.
What This Book Succeeded in Telling Me
Generationless, dispelled the echoed myths espoused by government departments and media that our 20-to 30-year olds, are terrible workers, savers and who easily frit away their money on holidays, iPods and Gameboys. This confirmed my personal feelings and conjectures. And that is, that this group of people are essentially being used as escape goats for leaders in institutions who favour the interests and welfare of a group, which is the grey-haired brigade of over 60-year olds.
This book Generationless, also confirmed my personal thought that to go forward in Australia, we have to go backwards in order to return emotional well-being; and increase the range of opportunities for a broader brushstroke of the population.
That may take the form of: -
1. Reducing or stopping the investment/renting culture to bring back home ownership to most, if not all
2. Bringing back Unions so that dirty or low skilled jobs come with proper conditions and remuneration together with providing a secure leg up to better jobs.
3. Bringing back good training on the job, including apprenticeships. Apprenticeships, here, being in the expanded form where it steps outside the traditional plumbing, carpentry, bakery and hairdressing areas to include science, mathematics, engineering etc. Germany appears to be a good template for how apprenticeships are a useful contributor to society and building greater feelings of security.
4. Removing casualization of the workforce as they would eliminate both anxious and humiliating living. Removal of casualization of the workforce may just remove underemployment and unemployment in a backhanded way.
The author Jennifer Rayner describes how she would desperately mentally count up the cost of each food item she put into her shopping trolley, hoping to have enough to pay for everything and thereby not being humiliated and forced to leaving behind the shopping, in front of all those in the food cue.
Or, she experienced the ongoing anxiety about running out of petrol before payday, and the uneasy wait for next week’s roster. All this wearing her down emotionally and affecting her state of well-being.
5. Jennifer Rayner also puts forward the idea that education needs to be made available to all. She recognizes University is not for everyone.
University studies are by and large about theories. There are people who are practical problem solvers and who are good with their hands. These people may benefit more from a TAFE study format rather than feel they have to go to University in order to secure a good job.
In the early 1980’s newly married parents could save one tenth of their monthly income and in one year gave them enough money to put a 10% deposit on a three-bedroom house.
In 2016, if you can out away one tenth of your monthly savings, at the end of the year, you would have less than one third of the deposit for a one room flat in the outskirts of a city suburb far away from your job location, amenities and public transport.
Australian properties are “bloody expensive”.— Jennifer Rayner
This Passage Made Me Stop
“20 to 30-year-old Australians spend their money because saving their money doesn’t get them anywhere. No matter how many homemade sandwiches you take with you and no matter how many concert tickets you forgo”
While I am not a 20 or 30-year-old, I know their life well and deeply.
The system doesn’t offer you leg up opportunities.
The system for work, housing and well being lies on a quicksand foundation.
To cope and manage, you keep doing away with anything and everything until you have nothing left to cut back on. Your world becomes tightly constricted and limited that it feels like you have a boa constrictor wrapped around your neck cutting off your air supply. Where does one go to, now?
What Did the Book Generationless Shine a Light on For Me?
The author Jennifer Rayner confirmed for me personally that Australia’s façade that all is well, is hollow.
Generationless brought home to me, that it is time. Change has to happen.
Rayner says, the 60 something grey-haired brigade can no longer deny how their good fortune is negatively affecting up and coming generations.
Young people have to learn to speak up and get politically involved and change the system to even it up. I agree with Rayner that the voting age needs to come down to 16 years of age.
It has to be about all of us and not the few. There needs to be change.
The author did not cover the 60 something grey-haired side of the situation.
I, personally, was fine with that as I was only interested in the feelings and experiences of those 20 to 30 year olds.
Generation less, was presented in a relaxed colloquial way which made it an easy and light read into the plight of the young Australian culture and the real everyday issues they are facing.
The use of colloquial phrases brought home a feeling of unification in our Australianness, that only served to bond me further to not only my cultural background but also to the angst and plight of our 20 to 30-year olds.
I Would Recommend This Book As A Good introduction
This book offers hands on practical solutions rather than just whinging about the dilemmas. For me, this made the account more complete and active in its intention.
At the end of this book, you will find suggested readings along the socio-political lines that appear to debate and/or highlight where Australia has been and where we can head.
I would recommend this Australian read. It’s an easy introduction into the issues being faced in the intergenerational gap held between the Australian 20 to 30-year olds and the 60 something grey haired brigade.
This dynamic is something
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