Young people in Australia have experienced some tough times during the last several years. As with other OECD countries, they were immediately and disproportionately affected by the global financial crisis. Though not as bad as countries such as Spain and Greece, young people today experience unemployment levels at two or three times the overall working population depending on where they live. And now they face a suite of transformative federal policy proposals to ‘earn or learn’. With key policy yet to make its way through parliament, we can only speculate about what forms it will eventually take. What we can expect, however, is a shift of the burden of debt from the state to young people. And in the stroke of a policy pen, it could extend markers of transition of “youth” to “adulthood” to the age of 30, with serious consequences.