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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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Contents >> Social and emotional wellbeing >> Social and emotional wellbeing: Torres Strait Islander people


SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING: TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE
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, 72% of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) reported being a happy person all or most of the time, with rates higher among adults living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region (84%) than elsewhere (70%).
  • 30% of Torres Strait Islander adults reported high/very high levels of psychological distress, similar to the rate for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (31%).
  • More than one-quarter (26%) of Torres Strait Islander adults had experienced discrimination in the last 12 months.
  • Around 5% (1,800 people) of Torres Strait Islander adults stated that they had been removed from their natural family.

This topic provides a range of information on the social and emotional wellbeing of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over, drawing on data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). Information presented includes:
This topic includes some contrasts between Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region and those living elsewhere. Comparisons are also provided with the overall Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. For a more detailed discussion on aspects of social and emotional wellbeing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, see the Social and emotional wellbeing topic. For information on other aspects of Torres Strait Islander peoples' health and welfare see the Torres Strait Islander people topic.


POSITIVE WELLBEING

In 2008, the majority (72%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) reported feeling happy; 59% felt full of life; 58% felt calm and peaceful; and 51% had a lot of energy all or most of the time in the four weeks prior to interview. Rates of positive wellbeing were similar for both men and women, and across broad age groups. However, rates for all four indicators were higher among adults living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region than for those living elsewhere (graph 8.1).

8.1 POSITIVE WELLBEING BY INDIGENOUS REGION, Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008
Graph: positive wellbeing by Indigenous Region,  Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
These estimates are also available for download in the Torres Strait Islander people datacube.


Rates of positive wellbeing were similar for both Torres Strait Islander adults and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, as were the associations between happiness and good health outcomes. For example, rates of happiness were higher among Torres Strait Islander people who rated their health as excellent/very good compared with those in fair/poor health (79% compared with 55%). Likewise, rates of happiness were higher among people with low/moderate levels of psychological distress (86% compared with 43% of those with high/very high levels of psychological distress).

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS

In 2008, 30% of Torres Strait Islander adults reported high/very high levels of psychological distress during the four weeks prior to interview, similar to the rate for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (31%). Rates were higher among Torres Strait Islander women (36%) than men (23%). There was no difference in rates of distress between people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region and those living elsewhere.

Psychological distress was associated with poorer health outcomes. Torres Strait Islander adults with high/very high levels of distress were more likely than those with low/moderate levels of distress to report fair/poor health (39% compared with 13%) and were less likely to report excellent or very good health (29% compared with 49%). They were also more likely to have a disability or long-term health condition (69% compared with 38%), to have been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the last 12 months (37% compared with 22%), and to have reported that they or their close friends or family had experienced at least one life stressor in the last 12 months (92% compared with 71%).


LIFE STRESSORS

In 2008, 77% of Torres Strait Islander adults reported that they or their close friends or family had experienced at least one life stressor in the last 12 months, the same as the rate for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (also 77%). The most common types of stressors reported were death of a family member or close friend (43%), serious illness (26%) and inability to get a job (21%).

Similar to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, high rates of multiple stressors were reported by Torres Strait Islander adults and their friends/families in 2008. Four in ten (43%) had experienced at least three stressors in the last 12 months and 26% had experienced at least five stressors over this period. The average number of stressors experienced was 3.

Over one-third (35%) of those experiencing at least one stressor in the last 12 months reported high/very high levels of psychological distress.


DISCRIMINATION

In 2008, 26% of Torres Strait Islander adults reported having experienced discrimination in the last 12 months. The most common situations or places where discrimination was experienced included the general public (13%) and at work or when applying for work (9%). Rates of discrimination, and situations where discrimination was experienced, were similar to those for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.


REMOVAL

Around 5% (1,800 people) of Torres Strait Islander adults reporting having been removed from their natural family, and 26% of people had relatives that had been removed from their families. These rates were slightly lower than those for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (8% and 38% respectively).




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