National News

NSW teenagers lose jobs and pocket money during COVID-19

Tens of thousands of Australian teens have lost their jobs, pocket money and even their mobile phones, according to a new survey on the financial effects of COVID-19.

The survey of 1000 parents of teenagers, conducted by the independent non-profit Financial Basics Foundation, showed 12% of New South Wales teenagers had lost their jobs during the pandemic and almost 18% had their work hours cut.

Foundation chair Brigid Leishman said the economic shock was having mixed effects.

“While nationally 13% of parents admitted struggling to make ends meet since the crisis began it was higher in New South Wales where 15.6% were struggling during lockdown,” Ms Leishman said.

“Almost a third of New South Wales respondents had completely overhauled their budget during COVID-19 and, for some, their teenagers have to miss out on pocket money or their mobile phone.”

The survey has been released at the launch of the 2020 Suncorp ESSI Money Challenge, a free online financial literacy competition for high school students, from 17-28 August.

Ms Leishman said these volatile times made it more important than ever to arm teenagers with financial literacy skills.

“The survey shows that nationally 25% of parents feel very anxious about their child’s financial future and 24% have not shared their money concerns with their children,” she said.

“The Suncorp ESSI Money Challenge is a fun, easy way to teach teenagers valuable lessons around earning, saving, spending and investing.”

The survey also showed half the parents had accessed financial support during COVID-19, such as government payments, rent relief, superannuation and even fast cash loans.

“Some had to arrange school fee payment plans, suspended car leases and even received food from a charity,” Ms Leishman said.

Chris Fleming, Suncorp Executive General Manager Consumer Banking, said money and household finances had been top of mind for most customers since the COVID-19 crisis began.

“The current economic environment reinforces the importance of teaching young people how to make good financial decisions including how they can handle any positive or negative shocks to their finances,” Mr Fleming said.

“Understanding and managing finances is an extremely important skill and helping teenagers build their financial literacy is part of our commitment to providing inclusive financial services and increased financial resilience within our community.”

Students who are doing remote learning during COVID-19 restrictions can participate in the challenge online from home.

  • Nearly 65,000 students from more than 1600 high schools have played ESSI Money over the past few years.
  • The free, online game is open to all high school students and cash prizes are up for grabs.
  • Teachers must register their students to play at


Reduced work hours 17.8%

No longer receiving pocket money 14.2%

Lost paid employment 12.3%

No longer using Afterpay 4.6%

No longer have a mobile phone 3.4%