Guides Say Survey reveals alarming concerns for young Australian girls

Minister for the Status of Women in Australia, Kate Ellis and leading journalist Mia Freedman will this month announce the findings of the Australian Guides Say 2010 survey. The new findings have highlighted the views of young Australian women and address key issues such as gender inequality, personal safety, illegal immigration, the environment, politics and more.

The only Australian survey of its kind, Guides Say is committed to empowering girls and young women to speak out on issues of importance and highlight areas where they believe action is needed, in order to make a difference.

Gender equality sits high on the list of findings for girls as young as five. Girl power and female influence are considered to be among the top five best things about being a girl, while being treated differently to men ranks within the top five worst things about being a girl. Interestingly however, these results look set to change as 93% of those surveyed plan on being in a position of power later in life, to ensure they can make a difference.

Spotlighting the next generation’s views on current political and social issues, more than 40% of respondents believe world leaders should be doing more to help with the environment, support current homelessness in Australia and fix current illegal immigration issues. Recognising the need to act, 80% of Girl Guides over the age of 10 commit two or more hours each week to volunteering; almost double the amount of time contributed by adults.

Kate Ellis, Minister for the Status of Women in Australia comments that the insights garnered from the Guides Say survey are invaluable. “It’s evident that Guides are keen observers of the world around them and it’s good to see them being given this opportunity to express their views. The fact that these young women are interested and engaged with political and social issues demonstrates both the intellect and awareness of our next generation,” she adds.

Alarmingly, results of the survey also show that 68% of young Australian girls admit to being bullied, and one fifth of those aged 10-14 have experienced online bullying. Additionally, nearly two thirds of those surveyed (65%) say that reports in the media make them worry for their own safety.

Helen Geard, Girl Guides Australia Chief Commissioner comments that Girl Guides is a fun and safe, girl’s only space where young women can build the confidence to take control of their own lives. “It has been estimated that young women see more beautiful images of women in one day than their mothers saw through their entire adolescence. 1At Guides we are inspired to be able to provide these young women with an environment where they can have fun and voice their opinions while feeling comfortable in their own skin.”

Leading journalist, Mia Freedman also notes that girls today face a variety of complex issues at a much younger age than the generation before them. “Sadly, pressures such as bullying and body image impact girls as young as five. Guiding gives girls the support and confidence to speak out on these issues in a fun environment and it’s no surprise that they consider Girl Guides their ‘safe place’.” she adds.

All survey results have been compiled into the Australian Guides Say 2010 report.

The Girls Say Survey will be launched on February 15th at Rose Gardens in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens. Attendees and speakers will include Minister for Women, Kate Ellis, Girl Guides Australia Chief Commissioner Helen Geard, Journalist Mia Freedman and 27 year old Guiding volunteer Renee Bianchi.

Interviews are available on request.

1 Student fact sheet, Body Image 2007. Women's Health Queensland.