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Aboriginal Children and Their Social and Emotional Wellbeing

The Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey (Zubrick et al., 2005) showed the number of life stress events was the factor most strongly associated with high risk of clinically significant behavioural and emotional difficulties for Aboriginal children.

The survey found 22% of Aboriginal children were living in families where seven or more major life stress events had occurred over the preceding 12 months, placing them at 5.5 times the risk of developing emotional and behavioural difficulties. Up to 70% of families had experienced three or more major life stress events, suggesting the majority of the population is at considerable risk. This places considerable strain on child development and could impact adversely on health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.

The survey also found that children cared for by a primary carer with a long term and limiting medical condition were 3.5 times as likely to be at high risk and there is mounting evidence showing the transgenerational impact on children cared for by carers who had been forcibly removed as children under past government policies (Atkinson, 2002; De Maio et al., 2005; Haebich, 2000).

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