“Young, Single, and Active in Sydney,” Ensign, August 2009, 74–75
What is it like to be a young single adult in Sydney, Australia?
Young single adults here might say they face the same challenges shared by their peers in countries around the world. And yet young single adults in Sydney feel they have some unique opportunities.
“We’re the same,” says Brittany Jones, because “the gospel is the same everywhere.” But, she says, young single adults in Sydney “have a unique opportunity in terms of multiculturalism to open gates and doorways to the rest of the world.”
Brittany is the next youngest of the four children of Trevor Jones, president of the Sydney Australia Hyde Park Stake. Brittany; her older brother, Ben; her older sister, Ashley; and her younger sister, Kate; have all taken part in the stake’s young single adult activities.
President Jones explained that single members make up more than 50 percent of the stake. A large percentage of the stake’s approximately 350 young single adults are students at one of the five major universities within stake boundaries. Many come from other countries; they will later go back to their home countries and strengthen the Church there.
What are the challenges the remaining young single adults face?
First, there are so few Latter-day Saints compared to the general population in Australia. This may affect how they maintain friendships, maintain personal spirituality, and find potential marriage partners.
Second, challenges to spirituality are constant, Ashley says—invitations to take a drink, to have a cigarette, to go to a club with friends who do not share LDS beliefs. “I think because of growing up in the Church and having parents who taught us what is right, it’s easier to say no,” she adds. Friends are usually accepting when she says drinking or smoking is not something she wants to do. “It’s not as hard as it used to be.”
In spite of the challenges, young single adults in Australia enjoy great opportunities, including the frequent opportunity to reach out to those of other faiths. For example, young single adults have met with members of Australia’s Parliament. (See article above.) “There are really good opportunities for us to get the Church out there in Australia, where it’s not that big as yet,” Brittany says.
Young single adults look forward to multistake activities that bring larger groups together. A YSA conference at the end of December 2008, for example, involved members from New South Wales and Queensland. Along with counsel from Area Seventies (Elders Hans T. Sorensen and David J. Hoare), the young single adults enjoyed a temple trip, cultural activities, and social activities, including three dances and a New Year’s Eve ball.
Kate Jones says the young single adults also often gather spontaneously at someone’s home, providing opportunities to spend time with people who have similar values.
A few years ago, Ashley Jones had the opportunity to attend the University of Utah for a semester. After she returned to Australia, she missed associating with so many young single Latter-day Saints. But opportunities provided through Church programs have helped her come to appreciate living where she does. “I’ve learned to love it,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, honestly.”
Through her growing up years, she enjoyed opportunities to work with missionaries in helping to teach the gospel. Now, Sister Ashley Jones is serving as a full-time missionary in the Canada Calgary Mission.
Her sister Brittany talks of serving a mission too, when she reaches missionary age. For now, she is continuing her university education and serving as a stake young single adult representative. “I love being a young single adult in Sydney. We have so many opportunities here,” she says. “It’s really exciting to be part of them.”