4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: User Guide, 2014-15  
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STRESSORS


Overview

This chapter provides information on the following topics:


Stressors

The 2014-15 NATSISS collected information on events which occurred in the 12 months prior to interview, that may have caused stress for the respondent or for their family and/or friends. The information was collected separately for children and adults. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, people could choose not to answer these questions.

Adult stressors

People aged 15 years and over were asked which of the following things had been a problem for them, their family or close friends in the 12 months prior to interview. Response categories were displayed on prompt cards, and included:

Health problems
  • really bad illness;
  • really bad accident;
  • mental illness; and
  • really bad disability.

Family changes
  • getting married/marriage;
  • pregnancy;
  • new family member;
  • overcrowding at home;
  • getting back together with a spouse;
  • divorce or separation; and
  • death of a family member or close friend.

Work problems
  • not able to get a job;
  • lost job, made redundant, sacked, retired;
  • started a new job or changed job; and
  • bullying or harassment at work.

Other problems
  • pressure to fulfil cultural responsibilities;
  • alcohol related problems;
  • drug related problems;
  • gambling problems;
  • witness to violence;
  • abuse or violent crime;
  • you, a family member or close friend spent time in gaol;
  • trouble with the police;
  • treated badly because Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander;
  • unwelcome at child's school; and
  • none of these.

More than one response could be provided. The wording of some response categories differed in remote and non-remote areas. People who selected one or more of these things as being a problem, or stressor, were asked which of these things were a problem for them personally. The number of problems experienced by self, family or friends in last 12 months was output numerically as a value ranging from 1 to 25. A refusal response may have been recorded.

Child stressors

For children aged 0-14 years, information was collected on events which occurred in the 12 months prior to interview, that may have caused stress for the child or disrupted their living arrangements. Proxies were asked if children had experienced any of the following situations:
  • had nothing fun to do (only asked of children aged 4-14 years);
  • got in trouble with the police (only asked of children aged 4-14 years);
  • had problems keeping up with school work (only asked of children aged 4-14 years);
  • had a really bad illness;
  • had a really bad accident;
  • was saved from an almost serious injury/accident/illness;
  • scared or upset by an argument or someone's behaviour;
  • was physically hurt by someone;
  • a family friend/family member had alcohol related problems;
  • a family friend/family member had drug related problems;
  • a new baby was born into the household;
  • death of a close family friend/family member;
  • parent in prison;
  • another family member in prison;
  • member of family arrested or in trouble with the police; and
  • none of the above.

More than one response could be provided. Response categories were displayed on prompt cards, and the wording of some response categories differed in remote and non-remote areas.

In addition to asking about stressful events which may have occurred, proxies were asked whether children aged 0-14 years needed to stay somewhere else, or be looked after by someone else, due to a family crisis or behavioural problems. Proxies were asked if at any time in the 6 months prior to interview, the child needed to stay overnight somewhere else (excluding sleepovers at friends houses, school or other organisation sleepovers/camps, staying at a parents house where there is a shared custody arrangement or staying somewhere else on a holiday or visit).

Proxies were also asked if at any time in the 12 months prior to interview, the child had to be looked after by someone away from home for more than a week. If so, they were asked to provide all of the reasons why the child was looked after by other people. Response categories were displayed on a prompt card, and included:
  • overcrowding at home;
  • family conflict;
  • breakdown of marriage/relationship;
  • financial difficulties at home;
  • sorry business;
  • child behaviour/ran away from home;
  • a family member was sick;
  • other reason; and
  • not known.

More than one response could be provided.

Proxies of all children aged 0-14 years were asked if at any time in the 12 months prior to interview they, or any other adult living in the household, had to look after another child, who normally lives somewhere else, for more than a week.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

The 2008 NATSISS collected information from people aged 15 years and over who personally experienced one or more stressors, on the types of things that would help them get through those difficult times. This information was not collected in 2014–15.

The following response categories were new in 2014–15:
  • types of stressors experienced (adult) — 'bullying or harassment at work'; and
  • reason child stayed somewhere else for more than a week — 'a family member was sick'.

Removal

People aged 15 years and over were asked about whether they, or any relatives have ever been removed or taken away from their natural family, and whether they knew about/used any of the services that are available to help people find/contact relatives. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, respondents could chose not to answer these questions.

People were asked if they or any of their relatives had been removed from their family by welfare or the government, or taken away to a mission (excluding people who were removed from their family for less than 6 months). If any relatives had been removed, people were asked which relatives had been removed. More than one response was allowed.

Response categories included:
  • your child(ren);
  • your brothers and/or sisters (including half/step brothers and sister);
  • your parents(including step-parents);
  • your (great-) grandparents;
  • your aunties and/or uncles;
  • your cousins;
  • your nieces and/or nephews;
  • other relatives; and
  • don't know who.

People who had been removed from their natural family were then asked if they had seen any of their relatives since they had been removed. People who had seen relatives since they had been removed were asked if they had used a service to find or make contact with each other. People who had not seen relatives since they were removed were asked if they knew of any of the services available that could help with finding and contacting relatives.

Barriers to service providers

Barriers to service providers include any problems people may have had getting to a service and any reasons why people may not have gone to/used a service when they needed to. People aged 15 years and over were asked if they found it hard to get to any of the following services, or if they had any other problems with accessing these services. More than one response was allowed.

Response categories included:
  • banks, credit unions or other financial institutions;
  • Centrelink;
  • employment services;
  • Family Assistance Office;
  • doctors;
  • dentists;
  • hospitals;
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health workers;
  • mental health services;
  • alcohol and drug services;
  • disability services;
  • Medicare;
  • legal services;
  • phone or Internet companies;
  • Motor Vehicle Registry;
  • power, water or gas providers;
  • housing services;
  • other service; and
  • no problems accessing / did not try to access services.

If more than 3 services were selected the respondent was asked which 3 services they had the most problems accessing. People who reported having problems getting to or accessing one or more services were asked to identify the problems they had for each service (maximum 3 services had most problem accessing).

Response categories included:
  • cannot trust them;
  • cost of service;
  • disability restricts access to service;
  • waiting too long/appointment not available at time required;
  • language difficulties;
  • no service in area;
  • transport / distance;
  • poor customer service;
  • treated badly because Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander;
  • inadequate services in area;
  • service not culturally appropriate; and
  • other barrier.

More than one response could be provided.

The barriers information is available on two different levels:
  • selected persons level; and
  • barriers level.

The information available on the selected persons level includes:
  • whether has problems accessing selected services;
  • types of services has problems accessing;
  • number of selected services has problems accessing;
  • services has the most problems accessing (maximum three services); and
  • types of barriers to accessing services with most problems (maximum three services).

At this level, the type of barrier to accessing services relates to all problems a person had accessing services, regardless of the service. Data refers to the number of people who experienced each barrier, therefore each barrier may only be recorded once per person.

The information available on the barriers level includes:
  • types of selected services has problems accessing; and
  • barriers accessing services with most problems (maximum three services).

At this level, the barriers to accessing services relates to all instances where a barrier was a problem. Data refers to the number of times each barrier was recorded. Barriers may therefore be recorded more than once for some people, as people may have recorded the same barrier for more than one service.

Comparison to the 2008 NATSISS

In the 2008 NATSISS, Barriers level data referred to all types of services with problems accessing. In 2014–15, this was restricted to a maximum of three services per respondent. Where a respondent reported more than three types of services they had problems accessing, they were then asked which three of these services they had the most problems accessing. Only these three services are represented at the Barriers level.

Between 2008 and 2014–15, there were revisions to the response categories for both the types of services people may have had problems accessing, and the types of problems, or barriers, people may have experienced in accessing those services. Response categories in 2008 were:

Types of services
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health services;
  • dentists;
  • doctors;
  • other health workers;
  • hospitals;
  • legal services;
  • employment services;
  • phone companies;
  • Centrelink;
  • banks and other financial institutions;
  • Medicare;
  • mental health services;
  • other services; and
  • no problems (includes people who did not have problems getting to or accessing services as well as people who did not need to access any services).

Types of problems or barriers
  • transport/distance;
  • cost of service;
  • no services in your area;
  • not enough services in your area;
  • waiting time too long or not available at time required;
  • service not culturally appropriate;
  • don't trust service;
  • treated badly because Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; and
  • other problems.

Unfair treatment and bullying

This topic encompasses two main themes:
  • experiences of unfair treatment because Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (people aged 15 years and over); and
  • bullying and unfair treatment at school (children aged 2-14 years).

Unfair treatment because Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (people aged 15 years and over)

The 2014-15 NATSISS collected information about experiences of unfair treatment in the 12 months prior to interview, using a series of questions designed to capture the type(s) of unfair treatment experienced, the frequency of unfair treatment, and the situation in which the most recent experience occurred. Being treated unfairly means a person is treated rudely, as if they are inferior or with disrespect; ignored, insulted, harassed, stereotyped or discriminated against; or unfair assumptions are made about them.

People aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had any of the following experiences because they are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, in the 12 months prior to interview. Response categories included:
  • called names, teased or sworn at;
  • heard racial comments;
  • ignored or served last while accessing services or buying something;
  • not trusted;
  • unfairly arrested or charged;
  • told you are less intelligent;
  • left out, refused entry or told you don't belong;
  • spat at or had something thrown at you;
  • any other experience that was unfair;
  • have not had an unfair experience; and
  • don't know.

More than one response could be provided. People who experienced more than type of unfair treatment during the previous 12 months were asked which type they had experienced most recently.

People who reported one or more experiences of unfair treatment were asked how often they felt they had been treated unfairly in the 12 months prior to interview. Response categories included:
  • always;
  • often;
  • sometimes;
  • rarely; and
  • only happened once.

They were also asked about the situation in which the (most recent) experience occurred. Response categories included:
  • applying for work, or when at work;
  • at home, by neighbours or at somebody else's house;
  • at school, university, training course or other educational setting;
  • while doing any sporting, recreational or leisure activities;
  • by the police, security people, lawyers or in a court of law;
  • by doctors, nurses or other staff at hospitals or doctor's surgeries;
  • when accessing government services;
  • when seeking any other services (e.g. at restaurants, bars, shops, banks, hotels, real estate agencies or in taxis);
  • on the internet or telephone (e.g. cyber bullying or text messages);
  • by members of the public (e.g. on the street; on public transport; or at shopping centres, parks, libraries, sporting events, concerts, restaurants, pubs or clubs); and
  • any other situations.

People aged 15 years and over were asked if, at any time during the 12 months prior to interview, they had avoided any of the following situations because they felt they had been treated unfairly in the past. Response categories included:
  • applying for work, or going to a job;
  • school, university, training course or other educational setting;
  • doing any sporting, recreational or leisure activities;
  • the police, security people, lawyers or a court of law;
  • doctors, nurses or other staff at hospitals or doctor's surgeries;
  • accessing government services;
  • seeking any other services (e.g. at restaurants, bars, shops, banks, hotels, real estate agencies or in taxis);
  • members of the public (e.g. on the street; on public transport; or at shopping centres, parks, libraries, sporting events, concerts, restaurants, pubs or clubs);
  • other situations; and
  • didn't avoid any situations.

More than one response could be provided.

Bullying and unfair treatment at school

For children aged 2-14 years, information was collected on bullying and unfair treatment at school. School includes pre-primary, preparatory, reception, transition, kindergarten, primary or secondary school.

Bullying is when another student, or group of students, uses behaviour that is cruel or hurtful for no reason. Unfair treatment is when another student, or group of students, teacher, or other school staff member discriminates against a student because they are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Bullying

Proxies of children aged 2-14 years, who usually attend school (excluding children who were home schooled), were asked whether the child had ever been bullied at school. A don't know response could be provided. If the child had been bullied at school, proxies were asked if they had been bullied at their current school, whether they had changed schools to avoid any bullying, and whether the bullying was:
  • physical;
  • verbal; or
  • through technology (e.g. via email, social media, phone, texting etc.).

More than one response could be provided. Proxies could have also said they did not know what type of bullying the child had experienced.

If the child had been bullied at school, proxies were also asked if the bullying led to the child not going to school as much as they should. If the proxy answered 'No' or 'Don't know', they were asked if they thought the child's progress at school was being affected by the bullying.

Unfair treatment

Proxies of children aged 2-14 years, who usually attend school (excluding children who were home schooled), were asked whether the child had ever been treated unfairly at school because they are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. A don't know response could be provided. If the child had been treated unfairly at school because they are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, proxies were asked if they had been treated unfairly at their current school, whether they had changed schools to avoid the unfair treatment, and whether they thought the child's progress at school was being affected by the unfair treatment.

Comparison with the 2008 NATSISS

This topic has undergone substantial revision since 2008. The major revisions are outlined below. Detailed information on how this information was collected in the 2008 NATSISS can be found in the Life experiences chapter of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008 (cat. no. 4720.0). The 2008 NATSISS questionnaire and Data item list can be accessed via the Downloads tab.

Unfair treatment because Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (people aged 15 years and over)

The major revisions between 2008 and 2014–15 include:
  • in 2014–15, the type(s) of unfair treatment experienced was collected for the first time;
  • in 2014–15, the situation in which unfair treatment was experienced referred to the most recent experience, and only one response could be provided, while in 2008 this referred to all experiences during the 12 months prior to interview and more than one response could be provided;
  • the addition of 'on the internet or telephone', to the list of situations in which unfair treatment may have occurred;
  • the response categories for the frequency of unfair treatment were updated;
  • in 2014–15, information on whether avoided situations, and the types of situations avoided, due to past unfair treatment was collected from all people aged 15 years and over, while in 2008 this information was only collected from those who had not been treated unfairly in the 12 months prior to interview; and
  • in 2014–15, this information is available on the selected persons level, while in 2008 information was available on two different levels — the selected persons level and the discrimination level.

In the 2008 NATSISS, data item labels referred to 'discrimination', however, the question wording referred to 'unfair treatment' and is consistent with the question wording used in 2014–15.

Bullying and unfair treatment at school

In 2008, proxies were asked if a child was 'bullied or treated unfairly at school' because they were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. In 2014–15, bullying at school, and unfair treatment at school, were collected separately. Additionally, in 2014–15, bullying was not restricted to that experienced because the child is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and types of bullying was expanded to include 'through technology' in 2014–15.

The following information was collected in 2008, but was not collected in 2014–15:
  • Whether child bullied or treated unfairly at school because Indigenous;
  • Types of perpetrators of bullying;
  • Whether perpetrators of bullying are Indigenous;
  • Types of perpetrators of unfair treatment;
  • Whether perpetrators of unfair treatment were Indigenous;
  • Effects of bullying on child; and
  • Effects of unfair treatment on child.

Homelessness

The 2014–15 NATSISS collected information about past experiences of being without a permanent place to live, and homelessness. The term 'permanent place to live' was left to the respondent's interpretation, however, if clarification was sought the following definition was provided; 'A permanent place to live is a usual address at a dwelling with kitchen and bathroom facilities, and provides security of tenure'. Security of tenure refers to a person's legal right to occupy a dwelling, with stability and security of tenure such as owning the dwelling and/or land, or renting with a formal lease or similar right that could be enforced by a tenant.

All question wording referred to being 'without a permanent place to live' rather than 'homeless'. A person was to considered to have experienced homelessness if they had ever been without a permanent place to live due to one or more selected circumstances, which are explained below.

The NATSISS provides information about people who have previously experienced homelessness, but who were usual residents of private dwellings at the time of enumeration. As the NATSISS only enumerates usual residents of private dwellings, it does not include people who were living in shelters, people sleeping rough, people 'couch surfing' (staying temporarily with other households), or people staying in boarding houses. It may include some people who were staying in transitional housing (including Transitional Housing Management programs) if the resident considered that dwelling as their usual residence.

The NATSISS did not specifically ask about the experience of living in severely crowded dwellings (households that require four or more bedrooms according to the Canadian National Occupancy Standard for Housing Appropriateness) which is considered to be homelessness under the ABS statistical definition.

People aged 15 years and over were asked if they had ever experienced any of the following situations because they did not have a permanent place to live. Response categories were displayed on a prompt card, and included:
  • stayed with family;
  • stayed at a friend's house;
  • stayed in a caravan;
  • stayed at a boarding house/hotel;
  • stayed in a night shelter;
  • stayed in a shelter for the homeless;
  • stayed at a women's refuge (e.g. a women's shelter);
  • squatted in an abandoned building;
  • slept rough (including sleeping in cars, tents etc.);
  • other; and
  • none of these.

More than one response could be provided. People who had ever experienced one or more of these situations were asked what led to the situation(s). Response categories were displayed on a prompt card, and included:
  • travelling/on holiday;
  • work related reason;
  • house-sitting;
  • saving money;
  • just moved back into town or city;
  • building or renovating home;
  • tight housing/rental market/not enough housing in community;
  • violence/abuse/neglect;
  • alcohol or drug use;
  • family/friend/relationship problems;
  • financial problems (e.g. not being able to pay mortgage or rent);
  • mental illness;
  • lost job;
  • gambling;
  • eviction;
  • natural disaster;
  • damage to house (e.g. house fire);
  • health issues; and
  • other.

More than one response could be provided. People were considered to have experienced homelessness if they had ever been without a permanent place to live due to one or more of the following reasons:
  • tight housing/rental market/not enough housing in community;
  • violence/abuse/neglect;
  • alcohol or drug use;
  • family/friend/relationship problems;
  • financial problems (e.g. not being able to pay mortgage or rent);
  • mental illness;
  • lost job;
  • gambling;
  • eviction;
  • natural disaster;
  • damage to house (e.g. house fire); or
  • health issues.

People who had ever been without a permanent place to live, and only stated reasons other than those listed above, were not considered to have experienced homelessness and were not asked any further questions on this topic. People who were considered to have experienced homelessness were asked how many times they were without a permanent place to live. Response categories included:
  • one time;
  • two times;
  • three times;
  • four times;
  • five times or more; and
  • don't know.

People who experienced more than one situation of being without a permanent place to live were asked which situation they experienced most recently. People may have reported more than one situation, for example, they may have stayed with family, and also stayed at a boarding house during their most recent period of being without a permanent place to live.

People who reported more than one reason for having been without a permanent place to live were asked what led to the most recent experience. People may have reported more than one reason. People may have experienced being without a permanent place to live for a number of reasons, including some reasons that were considered to be homelessness and others that were not. If a person's most recent experience of being without a permanent place to live was not considered to be homelessness, they were not asked any further questions on this topic.

People for whom the most recent experience of being without a permanent place to live was considered to be homelessness, were asked when that most recent experience was. Response categories included:
  • less than 12 months ago;
  • 12 months to less than 2 years ago;
  • 2 years to less than 5 years ago;
  • 5 years to less than 10 years ago;
  • 10 years or more ago; and
  • don't know.

People who had their most recent experience of homelessness less than 10 years ago were asked to think about the most recent experience, and to record how long they were without a permanent place to live. Response categories included:
  • less than 1 week;
  • 1 week to less than 2 weeks;
  • 2 weeks to less than 1 month;
  • 1 month to less than 2 months;
  • 2 months to less than 3 months;
  • 3 months to less than 6 months;
  • 6 months to less than 1 year;
  • 1 year or more; and
  • don't know.

They were also asked whether they sought assistance from any of the following services:
  • housing service providers;
  • crisis accommodation/supported accommodation for the homeless (e.g. shelter, women's refuge etc.);
  • mental health service;
  • church or community organisation (e.g. St Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army, Mission Australia etc.);
  • health service;
  • local council;
  • counselling service;
  • solicitor/Legal Aid;
  • member of parliament;
  • hospital;
  • police;
  • job service;
  • other; and
  • None.

More than one response could be provided. People who selected 'local council' were prompted for any further services, as the local council may have been the first port of call but they may have been referred to other services. People who did seek assistance from one or more services were asked if they felt that the service(s) helped them. A 'Yes', 'No' or 'Don't know' response could be provided.

People who did not seek assistance from any services were asked why they did not seek assistance from any support services. Response categories included:
  • did not know of any;
  • do not trust support services;
  • could not find one;
  • service was full;
  • refused help;
  • bad experience with service in the past;
  • no need/not required; and
  • other.

More than one response could be provided.

Comparison with the 2008 NATSISS

This information was collected for the first time in 2014–15.