Victoria’s youngest voters share what will swing their vote ahead of the state election

Home Politics Victoria’s youngest voters share what will swing their vote ahead of the state election
Victoria’s youngest voters share what will swing their vote ahead of the state election

Winning over voters like Amy Wooller will be critical for parties contesting this weekend’s state election.

“I definitely haven’t decided who I’m voting for,” the 21-year-old said.

“There are a few parties I definitely don’t align with. They’re going to be going towards the bottom of my ballot.”

Ms Wooller listed climate change and education as two key issues, and believed her friends were “definitely more engaged this time round”.

Ms Wooller is one of the several hundred thousand Gen Z voters participating in their first Victorian state election.

The 437,735 registered voters aged between 18 and 24 now make up 10 per cent of electors in the state, according to the Victorian Electoral Commission.

Young voters decry ’empty promises’

Ms Wooller spoke to the ABC as part of a panel of young voters, who were assembled by the Youth Affairs Council Victoria to chat about election issues.

Jessi Hooper, 21, knows first-hand the struggles facing Victoria’s health system.

A woman in a wheelchair sitting at a table
Health and disability funding in Victoria is a major election issue for Jessi Hooper.(ABC News: Kristian Silva)

“A lot of it is empty promises at the moment,” she said.

“And this is from someone who literally last night was sitting for 15 hours in an emergency room.”

Ms Hooper, who uses a wheelchair, had concerns about the number of young people with disabilities facing homelessness due to a lack of suitable housing and rising costs.

“How are they going to help us with some of these rising costs to help us keep our own homes, keep our rent, keep our lives going?” she said.

Shepparton resident Tom Saxton said the recent floods in his area have taken “an enormous physical and mental toll on everyone”.

He wants to see the next government prioritise flood recovery and improve infrastructure for those hit hardest.

Several others in the room, including Jay Lentini, said the state needed to pour more money into mental health services.

Gen Z vote crucial in metro Melbourne

About 65 per cent of Victoria’s Gen Z voters, aged between 18 and 24, live in areas classified as “metropolitan” by the electoral commission.

Other key seats on Melbourne’s fringe, like Melton and Pakenham, are deemed regional electorates and also have a solid Gen Z base.

In the suburbs, Berwick and Box Hill are in-play seats where Gen Z voters carry serious clout, making up 12 per cent of local voters.

Closer to the CBD, a similar ratio of young voters will cast their ballots in marginal seats like Hawthorn and Kew, which have traditionally skewed Liberal but now have Climate 200-backed candidates mounting a challenge.

Young voter panel
Voters like Rosie Thyer have become disillusioned with aggressive election campaigns.(ABC News: Kristian Silva)

Rosie Thyer, 20, has also been unimpressed by the political advertising, especially the attack ads.

“I find the campaigns are really quite hostile … [they] aren’t telling me what policies they’re going to introduce,” she said.

TikTok transformed into election battleground

Candidates and major parties have turned to social media, namely TikTok, to directly target Gen Z voters.

Prior to the campaign, Mr Andrews posted a TikTok clip about Labor’s policy to pay for nursing degrees, which clocked up more than 4 million views.

Another clip about a free tampon scheme, to the backing of Aretha Franklin’s respect, has had about 646,000 views on the platform.

However other campaign videos, including those attacking Matthew Guy, did not appear to have reached huge audiences on TikTok.

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The Labor and Liberal parties have turned to TikTok to win over young voters.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have posted anti-Andrews memes and songs, and made the party’s digital coordinator Olivia Harrison one of the faces of their TikTok push.

In one of their most-viewed videos, seen 22,000 times, Ms Harrison sits at a desk rapping along to a Nicki Minaj song. She tells the audience: “We’re in the middle of a health crisis but Dan doesn’t care”.

However, La Trobe University marketing expert Natalie McKenna said their efforts have largely been uninspiring.

“I don’t think … any political party or politician is really doing a great job,” Ms McKenna said.

“I do think Daniel Andrews is probably slightly in front and has a very good media team, but I’m not excited by it at all.”

Ms McKenna said the most effective videos have been created by commentators without clear party links, who have either championed or criticised political leaders.

“Some of them are actually really well-made. They do reach young people and they gain traction with an audience,” she said.

Trust in power remains a key issue

Several in the panel assembled by the Youth Affairs Council Victoria identified political integrity and accountability as priorities.

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