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4725.0 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth, Apr 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/05/2012  Reissue
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Contents >> Health >> What young people said about their health


HEALTH: WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE SAID ABOUT THEIR HEALTH

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth.


Note: In this section, the terms 'young people' or 'youth' refer to people aged 15–24 years. Data presented are from the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0) and the National Health Survey 2007–08 (cat. no. 4364.0).

KEY MESSAGES

Among all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in 2008:
  • 58% assessed their health as excellent or very good
  • 35% had a disability or long-term health condition
  • 5% needed assistance with one or more core activities of daily living (self care, mobility and communication)
  • disability rates were higher in non-remote areas than in remote areas (37% compared with 30%)
  • 69% had experienced low or moderate levels of psychological distress and 29% had experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.

GENERAL HEALTH

In 2008, more than half (58%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people rated their health as excellent or very good, 32% rated their health as good, and 10% rated their health as fair or poor.

Among all young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2008:
  • males aged 15–19 years were more likely than females aged 15–19 years to report excellent or very good health (66% compared with 56%), while the male and female rates for 20–24 year olds were similar
  • excellent or very good health was reported at similar rates in non-remote and remote areas.

DISABILITY AND LONG-TERM HEALTH CONDITIONS

In the 2008 NATSISS, respondents were asked if they had a disability (one or more restrictions) or a long-term health condition that had lasted, or was expected to last, for six months or more. Those that did were also asked if they needed help with one or more activities of daily living (self care, mobility and communication).

In 2008, just over one-third (35%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people had a disability or a long-term health condition and one in twenty (5%) needed assistance with one or more core activities of daily living. Disability rates were higher among youth living in non-remote areas than in remote areas (37% compared with 30%).

Information on specific restrictions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people showed that:
  • males were more likely than females to have reported difficulty learning or understanding things (11% compared with 7%)
  • females were more likely than males to have reported a nervous or emotional condition (7% compared with 3%)
  • difficulty learning or understanding things was a more common restriction in non-remote areas than in remote areas (11% compared with 4%)
  • hearing problems were more common in remote areas than in non-remote areas (8% compared with 3%).

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS

In 2008, just over two-thirds (69%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people had experienced low or moderate levels of psychological distress and around one in three (29%) had experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. Among young adults aged 18–24 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to have experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in the previous month (33% compared with 13%).

Low or moderate levels of psychological distress were more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males (73%) than females (65%), especially among 15–19 year olds (79% compared with 65%). This pattern was also evident for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over (71% for males compared with 64% for females). Young people in non-remote and remote areas experienced low/moderate levels of psychological distress at similar rates.

2.1 PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS BY SEX, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged 15–24 years—2008
Graph: Levels of psychological distress by sex, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–19 years and 20–24 years, 2008.
(a) Difference between males and females is statistically significant.
(b) Difference between males and females is not statistically significant.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with low or moderate levels of psychological distress were more likely than those with high or very high levels of psychological distress to:
  • be currently studying (43% compared with 36%)
  • have family members outside their household that they could confide in (79% compared with 70%)
  • have friends outside their household that they could confide in (83% compared with 76%).

They were also less likely than those with high or very high levels of psychological distress to:
  • be unemployed (14% compared with 20%)
  • be a smoker (40% compared with 49%)
  • have engaged in long-term risky/high risk drinking in the previous year (11% compared with 18%)
  • have engaged in binge drinking in the previous fortnight (33% compared with 43%)
  • have used one or more illicit substances in the previous year (22% compared with 34%)
  • have had relative(s) removed from their natural family (28% compared with 37%)
  • have felt that they had been discriminated against for being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (21% compared with 36%)
  • have been a victim of physical and/or threatened physical violence in the last 12 months (25% compared with 47%)
  • have personally experienced one or more stressors in the last 12 months (49% compared with 71%).

PERSONAL STRESSORS

In 2008, more than half (55%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15–24 years had experienced one or more personal stressors in the previous year, similar to the rate reported by those aged 25 years and over. For young people, the most commonly reported stressors were the death of a family member or close friend (22%), inability to get a job (15%) and personal illness (9%).


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