Year 12 is bittersweet. There’s stress, late nights and a lot of cramming. But there are also those highly anticipated events like the final athletics carnival, school formal and graduation.
For many, these events along the way are what motivate students to push through and cheer at the finish line. But what happens when those celebrations are taken away?
The final year of school is the most challenging, and that’s without the additional stress of a global health pandemic forcing students into isolation and online learning.
UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador, Brian Lee, is a Year 12 student from Victoria. He says so far, his school has been forced to cancel the athletics carnival and Year 12 graduation ceremony because of COVID-19.
“We are disappointed that this has happened and that we don’t get to experience a lot of what we expected from Year 12,” Brian says. “There is definitely a sense of frustration but there is no one really to direct that to or at.”
"It's been hard to think that this is our final year at school ... and we may have like three weeks left before we never get to spend time with these people again."
This sense of disappointment has been mirrored by some Year 12 students during UNICEF-run consultations to understand the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on young people. The consultations are part of the Young Ambassador Program’s national research into the views of young people in Australia.
“It's been hard to think that this is our final year at school and after this whole thing is over we may have like three weeks left before we never get to spend time with these people again. I think it's hitting Year 12s quite hard especially around here. And I see on Facebook everyone saying how rough it is that we don't get to do all of our last sort of things. So our athletics carnival got cancelled, our formal will probably get cancelled - all of these special things that we're meant to get.” - Student from regional NSW.
“I think the social factor is really important because you know every single day is lost - all those different events that are so important in your last year of school and also the social part of it. I think that's really important.” - Student from regional NSW.
Brian says the school social events aren’t only an opportunity for Year 12 students to celebrate and socialise together, but are where students find a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
“In Year 12, the social aspects often get suppressed by study. These events are where students are able to be social and have a sense of belonging. That’s why they are so important,” Brian says.
“Year 12 is a pretty difficult year for most students and graduation is the moment they get to celebrate that they have made it through those challenging times.”
Throughout the consultations students also spoke of their concern for the future, with many unsure what their final exams would look like or how COVID-19 would impact their tertiary study applications or future employment.
Specifically, two thirds of the more than 1,000 young people surveyed by UNICEF were worried about their education being disrupted or held back as a result of the changes being made to schooling as part of the government’s COVID-19 response.
“This limbo that we're living in feels like it's going to go on for the rest of the year. And I know there were concerns about making Year 12s repeat next year... I don't think I could do it for another year. I don't have any aspirations at the moment. I just get up and I do what's asked of me and then email and end my day with a walk. It's really, really disheartening at the moment. It's a lot different to the attitude I had at the beginning of the year when we were talking about going to Hobart and doing you know law studies. We're just missing out too much.” - Female, Devonport, Tasmania.
“It's kind of scary to think that after this there may not be kind of like job security moving forward - like being in Year 12 and wondering how the HSC is going to pan out, and how university offers are going to pan out. And then adding onto that fact, there may not even be like a workforce to join after all of this happens.” - Female, regional NSW.
COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of young people’s lives, putting strain on their ability to cope. While many young people are particularly concerned about their education, our research shows that COVID-19 is also having far wider impacts on young people’s lives.
"This limbo that we're living in feels like it's going to go on for the rest of the year."
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
18 Aug 2022
We won’t forget them. One year since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.
On 15 August 2021, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan and UNICEF pledged to stay and deliver. After decades of unrest and natural disaster, the country remains in crisis, and it’s a child rights crisis.
14 Aug 2022
Empowering young people in remote Australia
Dakota has already gained an impressive list of achievements, thanks to a new initiative by the Community Spirit Foundation supported by UNICEF Australia.
18 July 2022
Five myths about UNICEF
Although we are a United Nations agency, we receive no funding from them. We rely entirely on voluntary contributions from national governments and private donors like you.
15 July 2022
Rethinking screen-time for children in the time of COVID-19
How can children and families make the most of the increased reliance on screens, especially during lockdown?
16 May 2022
Headlines we can't forget about
News stories come and go quickly. Every so often a story will gather attention, only to fizzle out with the onslaught of another headline.
5 Apr 2022
More than just a month of fasting
As UNICEF Young Ambassadors past and present, these incredible young people have come together this Ramadan for a bigger purpose. Find out why this holy month of Ramadan is such an important time to give, reflect and to come together as a community, no matter who you are or what your beliefs.
17 Mar 2022
New life in a basement
Yuliya gently rocks her newborn baby in the basement of a medical centre in Kyiv. Vera is only days old, but her life is already in danger.
2 Mar 2022
How to talk to children about the conflict in Ukraine
The escalating conflict in Ukraine is a terrifying situation for children across the country. Families have been forced to leave everything behind and flee their homes.
5 Dec 2021
Test cricket captain Pat Cummins' promise to children
We are thrilled to announce that Pat Cummins has joined the UNICEF Australia family as an Ambassador.
18 Nov 2021
Meet our new Young Ambassadors for 2022
Every child and young person have a right to be heard on issues that affect their lives.