Young Aborigines Concerned about Alcohol, Drugs & Gambling
7 May 2013 at 4:25 pm
Young Aboriginal people feel more unsafe in their communities and are more likely to be concerned about the impact of alcohol, drugs and gambling than young non-Aboriginals, according to a major annual survey of young people.
And while young Aboriginal people are more likely to be looking for work than their non-Aboriginal peers, they are notably less likely to feel they can choose to go to university, travel or find a job upon finishing school than the latter group.
More than 640 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, aged 15-19, completed the welfare Not for Profit, Mission Australia's 2012 Youth Survey.
Mission Australia's CEO, Toby Hall, said while differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people remain stark, the survey uncovered a number of areas of common ground.
“Unsurprisingly, the results show significant gaps between young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across employment, education, family and welfare indicators,” Hall said.
“But encouragingly, there are a number of areas where the two groups share common ground and young Aboriginal people reveal themselves to be both resilient and determined to create a positive future for themselves, their families and communities.”
Highlights of the survey include:
- Almost one in five young Aboriginal people indicated they did not feel safe in their neighbourhood compared to one in 11 non-Aboriginal young people
- When asked about personal concerns, young Aboriginal people said they were extremely or very concerned about drugs (15% versus 8%), alcohol (14% versus 6%) and gambling (10.5% versus 3.5%) at higher levels than young non-Aboriginal people
- Young Aboriginal people are notably less likely to feel they can choose to go to university (45% versus 74%), travel (24% versus 43%) or get a job (42% versus 50%) after high school than their non-Aboriginal peers
- Young Aboriginal people are more likely to be looking for work than their non-Aboriginal peers (45% versus 33%)
- Seven in 10 Aboriginal respondents rated the ability of their family to get along as between excellent and good
- Getting a job was ranked as either extremely or very important by almost one in two young Aboriginal people compared to one in three non-Aboriginals
- Two-thirds of young Aboriginal people reported being either very satisfied or satisfied with their household's financial situation (compared to almost three-quarters among non-Aboriginals)
- One in five Aboriginal respondents did not have someone (not living with them) to turn to for support in a time of crisis compared to 1 in 10 non-Aboriginal respondent.
Toby Hall said the results highlighted a number of specific policy areas for attention which may assist young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to achieve their future potential.
“We began compiling separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey results in 2005 (Mission Australia's Youth Survey began in 2002) and every year a consistent feature has been, against stereotype, the higher value young Aboriginal people place on finding a job.
“For this reason, the most successful programs at closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people are likely to be ones that harness this determination.
"Our survey results also uncovered a desire among young Aboriginal people for greater connection with their communities. There is a lack of services available to young Aboriginal people, teenagers in particular.
“Consider too the fact that one in five Aboriginal respondents did not have someone (not living with them) to turn to for support in a time of crisis compared to one in 10 non-Aboriginal respondents. That reflects young Aboriginal people face a greater degree of isolation than their peers.
“In their responses they asked for more, and a wider range of, opportunities for recreation and engagement to combat youth boredom, which is often the seed for anti-social behaviour.
“And recreation doesn't just mean sport. Our survey shows that young Aboriginal people are involved in arts/cultural activities, youth clubs and environmental groups at a greater level than non-Aboriginal young people.
“They also participate in similar numbers in volunteering, student leadership and religious groups. The comments by survey respondents reflect a real desire to get involved but either the opportunities aren't there or they don't know how to identify them.
“The great thing is that when we asked young Aboriginal people how they felt about the future, the answer was resoundingly optimistic. More than two-thirds were positive about the future while only 11% were negative. The remaining 22% were neither.
“More than one in three (36.6%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are younger than 15. As more Aboriginal children enter their teens, we must be ready to help them reach their full potential,” Hall said.
Download the 2012 results at Mission Australia Youth Survey 2012.