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We urgently need a parliamentary inquiry into intergenerational fairness
Think Forward is focused on bringing issues of intergenerational fairness to a parliamentary inquiry.

This inquiry will focus on economic and social issues that impact all generations, and look to identify areas where we need to restore balance in our collective generational bargain. 


The idea of fairness between generations

​​Intergenerational fairness describes the idea that there should be economic and social fairness between generations. In practice, we believe intergenerational fairness occurs when governments make choices that don't just benefit the older voting population, but consider the future prosperity of young people.


Let's take a look at some of the issues...

Young people want to live a quality life and confidently move through the same life stages as generations prior. But young people face a host of barriers made worse by government spending and tax decisions.

Many young people are genuinely fearful of what their future looks like. The ABC's 2021 Australia Talks survey found that 3 in 4 Australians aged 18-29 believe they will be worse off than their parents. The majority of the rest of the population agree too.


Australia's millennial generation is at risk of being the first generation since federation to have worse economic outcomes than the generation before [1]. Let's take a look at some of the issues...

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  1. Wood, D., Griffiths, K., and Emslie, O. (2019). Generation gap: ensuring a fair go for younger Australians. Grattan Institute <>

  2. Pennington, A. (2020). An Investment in Productivity and Inclusion: The Economic and Social Benefits of the TAFE System. Centre for Future Work. p.11 <>

  3. The Foundation for Young Australians. (2016) Renewing Australia's Promise - Report Card 2016. p.3 <>

  4. The Actuaries Institute. (2020). Mind the Gap: The Australian Actuaries Intergenerational Equity Index.<>

  5. Calculated using the Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2020 and 1999


An inquiry kickstarts a conversation about intergenerational fairness

Inquiries kickstart a conversation, providing an opportunity for both experts and everyday Australians to have their views considered on a policy issue. Parliamentary inquiries can be an efficient means to raise awareness and promote debate in the community about important issues.

Inquiries help shape Government action and laws. Inquiries result in a report to the Parliament with policy recommendations for the Government of the day to consider. Crucially, the Government must respond to the findings of an inquiry.

Inquiries are common, and nothing to be afraid of!


What we can learn from others' experience

We've seen this work in the UK, where an inquiry into intergenerational fairness was set up in 2018.

The UK inquiry confirmed an endemic failure of policymaking of successive governments who failed to pay sufficient regard to longer term policy consequences that have undermined intergenerational fairness, including for generations yet to be born.

The UK inquiry found:

  • Persistent short-termism in government outlook and policy

  • No consideration of the potential effects of policy on different generations

  • A failure of successive governments to ensure a sufficient supply of affordable homes

  • Education and training that is ill-equipped for the needs of the changing labour market

  • Increasingly insecure employment and an erosion of workplace rights

  • A failure to make proper provision for the growing costs of aged care, burdening younger tax-payers


The economic fall out of COVID-19 has left younger generations more vulnerable than ever

Responding to COVID-19 has seen Australia commit to once-in-a-generation spending. Young people will bear the costs of stimulus, and will have to find ways to grow and sustain our national economy.

Now is time to reimagine the future of Australia and consider how it looks for young Australians. As we rebuild post-COVID, this need is even more urgent. We must change course and adjust our tax and spending priorities so Australia's millennial generation and those that follow do not end up experiencing worse economic outcomes than generations prior. The smart and fair thing to do is for Australia to look at these complex issues and consider them in a profound and constructive manner.


A coalition to make change

We are proud to work with a coalition of youth organisations striving to improve outcomes for young Australians.

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We want to hear from all people and organisations interested in intergenerational fairness

  • Sign our petition below

  • If you represent an interested organisation or have expertise in issues of inter-generational fairness, check out our flyer and join our coalition here.

  • If you'd like to send us your thoughts on issues, we love reading contributions to the debate and we will do our best to respond. 

  • To hear more about what we are doing to lobby for a parliamentary inquiry, subscribe for updates. 



To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
Think Forward, with a coalition of youth organisations including the Foundation for Young Australians, Youth Action, Youth Development Australia and Youth Affairs Councils from several states, calls for an inquiry to start the conversation on intergenerational fairness.

The petition of the undersigned shows:

Support for an Intergenerational Fairness Inquiry to:

  • Explore our tax and spending structure, ensuring it is sustainable for a 21st Century Australia  

  • Improve the economic opportunities and outcomes for young people

  • Provide a platform for experts and everyday Australians of all ages to make submissions and share their knowledge and experiences.

Your petitioners ask that the Senate:

Establish an inquiry into economic issues impacting all generations in Australia, to be known as the Intergenerational Fairness Inquiry

Thanks for signing our petition!

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