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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
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Contents >> Social and emotional wellbeing >> Stressors and life events — Children


SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING: STRESSORS AND LIFE EVENTS — CHILDREN
This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


KEY MESSAGES
  • In 2008, 65% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years had experienced at least one stressor in the last 12 months.


This topic presents results from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), which provides the first available ABS data on life stressors among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Information was collected about children's experiences during the 12 months prior to interview in relation to schooling, health and illness, and positive and negative contact with the police. Information was also collected about stressful events that had occurred in the child's broader family setting, such as a death in the family, a parent imprisoned, or a new baby born into the child's household.

In 2008, around two-thirds (65%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years were said to have experienced at least one stressor in the last 12 months. The most common types of stressors reported were death of close family member/friend (22%), problems keeping up with school work (20%) and being scared/upset by an argument or someone's behaviour (19%). Among those who had been exposed to stressors, 40% had experienced just one stressor, 14% had experienced at least three types of stressors and 12% had experienced five or more stressors.

Similar rates of boys (66%) and girls (63%) had experienced at least one stressor in 2008, however boys were more likely than girls to report having problems keeping up with school work (24% compared with 16%). Overall, stressors were more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in non-remote areas than remote areas (66% compared with 60%). As shown in graph 4.1, children in non-remote areas reported higher rates for all the most common types of stressors except for death of a family member or close friend.

4.1 TYPES OF STRESSORS(a)(b) BY REMOTENESS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years—2008
chart: types of stressors experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years by remoteness, 2008
(a) Experienced in the last 12 months.
(b) Respondents may have reported more than one type of stressor.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
These estimates are also available for download in the Social and emotional wellbeing datacube.


Children who experienced stressors reported lower rates of excellent/very good health than those who had not experienced stressors (73% compared with 83%). They were also more likely to have problems sleeping (25% compared with 15%), to have stayed overnight somewhere else due to a family crisis (13% compared with 5%), and to have missed days at school in the last week (29% compared with 21%).

Nevertheless, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had experienced selected positive life events in the previous year. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of all children aged 4–14 years had been on a holiday or trip away in the last 12 months and 58% had received an award, prize or some other recognition during the same period.




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