It’s no surprise to us that women and young people have been hardest hit by job losses during COVID-19. But what’s it like to be a young woman in South Australia?

We are asking women under 30 to help us build a picture of how young working women in South Australia have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to everyone who has completed our survey so far. We’ve put together this snapshot to highlight some of the things you have in common.

(Haven’t filled out the survey yet? Let us know how COVID-19 has affected you.)

So far, we have heard from 103 women and gender diverse people between the ages of 12 and 30, with most responders being women in their 20s. They worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, education, hospitality, childcare, sex work, retail, and the arts.

Working Hard: 14% of survey respondents were overworked at the time of filling out the survey

Overall, 30% found it hard to balance work with home life due to COVID. 29% saw an increase in workload.

9% of survey respondents suspected (or knew) they weren’t paid the correct amount. 31% of all respondents on JobKeeper were asked to do things beyond their normal responsibilities to get the payment, including increased hours at the expense of other commitments.

Hardly Working: 42% of survey takers lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced.

26% of respondents were unemployed or underemployed at the time of taking the survey. They reported struggling to find more work because few companies were hiring or because available jobs weren’t a good match for their qualifications, availability, or health. 53% felt more discouraged about the prospect of finding work.

Money Troubles: Half of the people surveyed were very worried or anxious about money.

We asked survey respondents whether they were financially better off, worse off, or the same since COVID-19 hit. While not every person receiving a government payment reported they were doing better financially, 77% of respondents who said they have more money now are were on some government payment.

Financial strain had real consequences for many respondents. 8 skipped meals or couldn’t afford essential medical products. 11 respondents worried about homelessness, with 7 unable to pay rent, bills, or mortgage repayments on time. 8 withdrew from their super.

Mental Wellbeing: 75% became more anxious, sad, or depressed.

27% of survey takers feared losing work, and 40% feared getting COVID-19. We were really concerned to hear that since COVID-19 hit, 2 respondents have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 4 have experienced violent or controlling behaviour from an intimate partner or family member.

A COVID-19 recovery for young women

In their survey responses, many young women made it clear that the mental health impacts of COVID were closely linked with job insecurity. It is vital that government COVID-19 recovery policies factor in the disproportionate impacts of COVID on young women.

We need stimulus funding for job creation feminised sectors, in other words, industries where women are more likely to work. If we boost these sectors, we boost employment for young women, and we improve quality of life through social infrastructure, health and mental health services, education and the arts.

 

Find our preliminary results fact sheet here.

Words by Fi Fraser, volunteer with our Young Women’s COVID-19 Advocacy Program.

This survey is part of a Working Women’s Centre youth project that is funded by the Government of South Australia – Department of Human Resources.