4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/04/2016   
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SOCIAL NETWORKS AND WELLBEING


Social contact

Being able to contact family and friends not living in the same household can enhance a person's feelings of connectedness to the wider community and can build social resilience. In 2014–15, the majority (83%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had weekly face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside their household, including 43% who had daily contact. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had daily or weekly face-to-face contact with family or friends was similar in non-remote and remote areas (82% and 86%, respectively). However, people in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to have had daily face-to-face contact (66% compared to 37%) — a possible reflection of the relatively close proximity to family and friends in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, in which the sense of a single community may be stronger than the concept of separate households (Figure 4.1 and Table 10).

Figure 4.1. Frequency of face-to-face contact(a)(b), by remoteness — 2014–15
Graph Image for Figure 4.1 Frequency of face-to-face contact(a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) With family or friends outside the household. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey



Family and community support

Strong social networks can provide emotional, physical or financial support during times of crisis. As well as support that is provided by household members within a dwelling, help can also come from extended family, friends, neighbours, or work colleagues who live elsewhere. In 2014–15, the majority (92%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said they were able to get support from outside their household in a time of crisis. In addition, 82% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said they were able to confide in family or friends living outside their household. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to say they have family and/or friends outside the household in whom they could confide (87% compared with 65%) (Table 10). These differences may reflect the relative lack of privacy that can arise from living in close proximity to family and friends, such as might be experienced in a remote community setting. Greater access to family and friends, reflected in a higher proportion of people in remote areas having daily face-to face contact, could also reduce the need for the conscious sharing of confidences when stressful situations arise.

Caring for a person with disability, a long-term health condition or old age

In 2014–15, one-quarter (25%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over provided care for a person with disability, a long-term health condition or old age in the four weeks prior to interview. There was a significant difference between the proportion of females (30%) and males (21%) who had been a carer in the previous four weeks (Table 4).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to be a carer (34% compared with 23%). This pattern was evident among people aged 15–54 years, although the difference between non-remote and remote proportions for people aged 45–54 years was not statistically significant (Figure 4.2 and Table 4).

Figure 4.2. Provided unpaid care in the last four weeks(a)(b), by age and remoteness — 2014–15
Graph Image for Figure 4.2. PROVIDED UNPAID CARE IN THE LAST FOUR WEEKS(a)(b), by age and remoteness

Footnote(s): (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (b) Care provided to a person with disability, long-term health conditions or old age. (c) The difference between non-remote and remote data is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


In 2014–15, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have provided unpaid care (age standardised rate ratio of 1.5) (Table 1).

Providing support for relatives outside the household

In 2014–15, almost half (49%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were providing support to relatives living outside their household. Types of support included providing money to help pay rent/bond or other household costs, lending a car, or providing clothes. People in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to provide support (60% compared with 47%). This pattern was evident for all age groups, although the difference between proportions in non-remote and remote areas, for people aged 25–34 years, was not statistically significant (Table 10).

The extent to which a person is able to provide support to relatives outside their household is closely tied to their changing circumstances, some of which are related to their stage in life. For example, young people (typically in transition from school to work) are the most likely to still be dependent on support from others, and the least likely to have the means to provide financial support to others living outside their household. They are also less likely to be partnered and to have formal caring responsibilities for dependent children and/or ageing parents. In 2014–15, around one-third (32%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 years were providing support to relatives living outside their household. In contrast, six in ten (61%) of those aged 45–54 years were providing this kind of support (Figure 4.3 and Table 10).

Figure 4.3. Provided support to relatives living outside household, by age and remoteness — 2014–15
Graph Image for Figure 4.3. Provided support to relatives living outside household, by age and remoteness

Footnote(s): (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. (b) The difference between non-remote and remote data is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


Sense of efficacy and trust

A person's sense of social wellbeing and their level of trust in their community may be affected by a sense of efficacy (their ability to have a say on important issues). These factors promote self-worth and enhance a person's ability to function confidently in society.

In 2014–15, one-third (33%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over agreed that most people can be trusted. The majority (81%) agreed that their own doctor could be trusted, 65% that hospitals could be trusted, and 58% that local police could be trusted (Table 10).

Around one-quarter (26%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over felt they could have a say within their community on important issues, all or most of the time, while 51% felt they could have a say within their community a little or none of the time (Table 10).

Perceptions of leadership and community

The 2014–15 NATSISS collected information in remote areas relating to people's perceptions of community leadership in the previous 12 months.

In remote areas, around half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over felt their local community had strong leadership (50%) and that leaders in the community had time to listen and give advice (52%). In addition, almost one-third (31%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in remote areas felt that their community was a better place to live compared to 12 months previously, half (49%) felt that their community was about the same as 12 months ago, and 16% felt that it was a worse place to live (Table 10).

Overall life satisfaction

The 2014–15 NATSISS collected, for the first time, overall life satisfaction ratings on a scale of 0 to 10 in which 0 is 'not at all satisfied' and 10 is 'completely satisfied'.

More than half (53%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of 8 or above (52% in non-remote areas and 58% in remote areas). A larger proportion of people in non-remote areas than remote areas had a low rating (0-4) (10% compared with 7%). Conversely, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas were almost twice as likely as those in non-remote areas to have provided an overall life satisfaction rating of 10 (27% compared with 14%) (Table 17). Apart from the large difference for ratings of 10, overall life satisfaction ratings in non-remote and remote areas followed a similar distribution pattern (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4. Overall life satisfaction rating(a)(b), by remoteness — 2014–15
Graph Image for Figure 4.4. Overall Life Satisfaction Rating(a)(b), by remoteness

Footnote(s): (a) From 0 'not at all satisified' to 10 'completely satisfied'. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over. (c) The difference between non-remote and remote data is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


In 2014–15, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 years were less likely than those in older age groups to have provided an overall life satisfaction rating in the low range (0-4). One in ten (10%) people aged 25–44 years and 11% of those aged 45 years and over provided a rating in the low range, compared with 6% of those aged 15–24 years.

Almost one in six (17%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said that they were completely satisfied with their life. One in five (20%) people aged 45 years and over and 18% of those aged 15–24 years provided an overall life satisfaction rating of 10, compared with 14% of those aged 25–44 years, although the difference between the proportions for age groups below 45 years was not statistically significant (Table 17).

Factors associated with overall life satisfaction

When overall life satisfaction ratings were viewed in conjunction with a range of other social indicators, there was a clear association between ratings in the low range (0-4) and relative disadvantage. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over with fair or poor self-assessed health were more likely than those with excellent or very good health to have provided an overall life satisfaction rating of 0-4 (21% compared with 3%), as were:

the unemployed compared with the employed (13% and 5%, respectively);
people who were not able to get support in a time of crisis compared with those who could (18% and 8%, respectively); and
those who had not completed Year 12 compared with those who had (10% and 7%, respectively) (Table 17).

Being a carer, having a disability or long term health condition and/or having experienced physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months were characteristics also associated with lower overall life satisfaction (Figure 4.5 and Table 17).

Figure 4.5. Low life satisfaction rating(a)(b), by selected characteristics — 2014–15
Graph Image for Figure 4.5. Low life satisfaction rating(a), by selected characteristics(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Overall life satisfaction rating in range 0–4. (b) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over.

Source(s): 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey


Unfair treatment

People who feel that they have been treated unfairly may have lowered self esteem and other emotional problems as a result. People who have been treated unfairly in the past may avoid certain situations, which could lead to feelings of social exclusion and isolation. The 2014–15 NATSISS asked respondents about experiences of unfair treatment because they were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

About one-third (33%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over felt that they had been treated unfairly at least once in the previous 12 months, because they were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. People in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to feel that they had been treated unfairly in the last 12 months (35% compared with 28%). While 35% of females felt they had been treated unfairly, compared with 32% of males, this difference was not statistically significant (Table 14).

The most commonly reported form of unfair treatment, in both non-remote and remote areas, was hearing racial comments or jokes. One-quarter (25%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in non-remote areas and 15% in remote areas said they had overheard racial comments or jokes in the previous 12 months. One in seven (14%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been called names, teased or sworn at (Table 14).

Around one in seven (14%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had avoided situations in the last 12 months, due to being treated unfairly in the past (Table 14).