Youth engagement – the ABC’s future needs younger Friends

In 2020, ABC Friends Victoria commissioned research into the attitudes of young people (18–40 years) to the ABC and their awareness of threats to the ABC from insufficient government funding or political interference.

This research – which focused on tertiary students/young professionals and parents of young children – found that while nearly all respondents love particular programs or products (for example, Triple J and Bluey), most were often not aware these came from the ABC.

There was also limited awareness that the ABC is funded by the national government and can be threatened as a result.

During 2021 and 2022, ABC Friends Victoria has been working to implement the recommendations of this report, particularly through the efforts of inaugural youth engagement officer, Aynsley Mitchell, and social media coordinator, Tom Hall.

This work is about to be boosted further through a new youth engagement strategy and the appointment of a new person to implement this strategy.

As a result of contacts made by Aynsley, ABC Friends Victoria is also the community sector organisation chosen this year as the focus of the Public Relations Institute Australia’s Pitch This competition.

Final year Public Relations students will soon compete in teams to develop a real-life communications strategy which provides ideas as to how ABC Friends can reach and engage young people so that they understand that the ABC is government-funded, independent and a vital source of factual news and information.

The results of this competition will be incorporated into the work ABC Friends Victoria does to engage with younger audiences.

Read more about Pitch This

We believe that this work presents an opportunity to engage an audience which actively responds to social causes, believes strongly in political independence and accountability and is increasingly looking to the ABC as a source of independent and factual news and information.

Recent research (including commissioned by ABC Friends Victoria) shows that many young people are consuming ABC news source, particularly when delivered digitally.

ABC News is Australia’s number one digital news site, including through social media sites favoured by young people such as Instagram. In June 2021, just under 13 million Australians, or 51% of people aged 2+, used either the ABC news website or app, while the ABC News mobile app achieved its highest weekly audience on record of 1.4 million users in August 2021.

Highlighting the ABC’s digital reach will be a key focus in increasing awareness among young people about how the ABC plays a key role in their lives. This will then, hopefully, flow into more interest in the ABC and its future.