NACCHO Indigenous Youth Report Alert : Fundamental shift to ensure young people centre of decision making

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report Infographic_Page_1

The higher rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people taking their life is widely reported. Our young people have to see they have a future and they need access to mental health and alcohol and drug services and suicide prevention programs and vulnerable communities must be empowered and supported to lead their own recovery.

We must do more to invest early in families and communities to avoid these tragedies, address disadvantage, build on strengths and celebrate successes.

Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor, University of Canberra and Co-Chair, Reconciliation Australia, writing in a foreword to the report

Download a PDF copy of the Report

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report_Detailed results

We need a more inclusive and consultative way of delivering services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. These approaches must be long-term, with a sustained commitment. Too many effective responses have been ad hoc, cut short and left unsupported.

“The Youth Survey findings make it clear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people really want to work and a high proportion see themselves going on to further education or employment. Let’s help them achieve their aspirations, by listening to them, empowering them and investing for their future.”

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans

Mission Australia is calling for a fundamental shift to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are at the centre of decision making after launching its report which shows they face serious disadvantages compared to non-Indigenous young people.

Catherine Yeomans said the country needed to find a more inclusive and consultative way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to be involved in the identification of their needs, as well as the design and delivery of services.

According to a special report based on the 2015 Mission Australia Youth Survey findings, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported higher levels of concern about bullying and emotional abuse, depression, drugs, alcohol, gambling and suicide.

One in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men indicated that their happiness was zero out of ten, as did 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women. Comparatively, only 1% of non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents rated their happiness at this level.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report Infographic_Page_1 - Copy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were also more likely to have spent time away from home in the past three years because they felt they couldn’t return and to have stayed away more frequently and for longer.

CEO Catherine Yeomans said: “It’s a challenging read and while we see some positivity the overall picture painted is of a cohort of marginalised young people facing some really complex problems without the support they need.

“This report provides further evidence that Indigenous young people are facing more serious challenges than their non-Indigenous peers. As a society, Australia has a moral, social and economic duty to support all young people to reach their potential. And sadly, this report shows we are failing miserably, with too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people falling through the cracks. This is not a sustainable way for us to proceed as a nation and to me it suggests a divided society.

“We need an urgent rethink of how we deliver programs to ensure we are working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to overcome the barriers in front of them – barriers that must sometimes seem insurmountable – leading to these concerning levels of despair.

“We know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are massively over-represented in Australia’s homeless population. The severely overcrowded living conditions many young people live in make it extremely difficult to go to school or work. It’s no surprise that poor housing has severe impacts on their physical and mental health.

“Their ambitions are often thwarted by the lack of age and culturally appropriate mental health services, alcohol and drug services and homelessness services. These gaps in the service system are leaving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people unsupported during the important time of transition to adulthood and should be urgently remedied.”

Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor, University of Canberra and Co-Chair, Reconciliation Australia, writing in a foreword to the report

“If we are serious about ‘Closing the Gap’ we need to get serious about providing equal opportunities for our young people. We need to recognise the history of colonisation, dispossession, removals and trauma and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to create a brighter future.

“To achieve substantial and sustainable change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, elders and organisations need to be involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of programs intended to benefit them. Governments, community organisations and businesses need to play their part in building relationships and working towards a reconciled, just and equitable Australia.

“I hope leaders from all walks of life reflect on the findings in this report and the role they can play in addressing the disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people through investing in them to realise their full potential,” he said.

 

KEY FINDINGS FROM REPORT

  • One quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported high levels of personal concern about depression, and around one in five reported high levels of concern about suicide (being either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about these issues).
    • Comparatively, around one in five non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people indicated high levels of concern about depression and around one in ten reported high levels of concern about suicide.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were more likely to indicate very low levels of happiness, with a disturbing one in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males (10.1%) indicating their happiness was ‘0’, compared with 4.8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females.
    • Conversely, only 1.2% of non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander respondents’ reported such low levels of happiness.
  • Over half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported having moved house in the past three years.
    • This compares to around a third of non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were also more likely than non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people to have spent time away from home in the past three years because they felt they couldn’t return (a proxy indicator for couch surfing), with around three in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reporting having done so.
    • Comparatively, around one in eight non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people had spent time away from home due to feeling unable to return.
  • Importantly, these incidents are not isolated, with over one third of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who had spent time away from home reporting having done so at least ten times over the past three years. Moreover, a concerning number reported that this was often a prolonged absence, with just under half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people typically spending at least one week away from home and around one in five reporting spending more than six months away from home on each occasion.
    • Again, these proportions were notably higher than among non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were more likely than non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young people to identify homelessness/housing as an important issue facing Australia currently.

For the last 14 years, Mission Australia has conducted an annual survey of young people aged 15 to 19 across Australia. The survey collects socio-demographic information and asks young Australians about their current circumstances, values, concerns and aspirations.

This report is based on the responses of 18,727 respondents in Mission Australia’s 2015 Survey. Of these, 1,162 identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. It compares the responses of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to those of non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background participating in the survey and highlights areas of similarity and difference.

The 2016 Youth Survey is due to be released in December. To receive a copy of the report and media release please email bakeran@missionaustralia.com.au.

 

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