CUTS to TAFE, public transport headaches, youth pressures, mental health services, unemployment and affordable housing.
Young people in the Hunter face a myriad of complex issues and research shows they are more disengaged with party politics than ever before.
But a group of high school and university students, as well as youth services workers, got the chance to quiz seven state government candidates at a joint Youth Action and RYDON (Regional Youth Development Officers Network) election forum at Charlestown Library on Monday. The candidates included Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison, Charlestown Liberal candidate Jason Pauling, Swansea Liberal candidate Yasmin Catley, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Newcastle Greens candidate Michael Osborne. Lake Macquarie Christian Democratic Party candidate Kim Gritten filled in for Charlestown candidate Brian Tucker and Newcastle Liberal candidate Karen Howard was a late omission.
After workshopping their queries with Youth Action policy director Eamon Waterford, there were plenty of well-crafted questions from the audience and even a few valid answers.
But Mr Waterford said there were still key youth issues the parties were not prepared to take seriously.
"None of them are tackling youth employment," Mr Waterford said.
"Affordable housing as well is always something they are not great on.
"One of the outcomes of this which is not necessarily immediately apparent is legitimising young people's interest in politics. So in a way the answers from the politicians don't matter so much as they are acknowledging that young people have an important perspective to offer."