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4725.0 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth, Apr 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/05/2012  Reissue
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Contents >> Health >> What young people did about their health


HEALTH: WHAT YOUNG PEOPLE DID ABOUT THEIR HEALTH

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing: A focus on children and youth.


Note: In this section, the terms 'young people' or 'youth' refer to people aged 15–24 years. Data presented are from the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0) and the National Health Survey 2007–08 (cat. no. 4364.0).

KEY MESSAGES

Among all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in 2008:
  • 38% had taken part in sport or physical activities in the previous three months
  • 39% were current daily smokers
  • 25% had used one or more illicit substances in the previous year, with marijuana most commonly reported (20% of all young people)
  • 13% reported drinking alcohol at risky/high risk levels in the previous year
  • 36% reported binge drinking in the previous fortnight.

The health of young people can be enhanced and improved by, for example, their participation in physical activity. Conversely, health may be adversely affected by behaviours such as risky/high risk drinking, drug-taking and tobacco smoking which can increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries occurring in the short term, and contribute to the development of chronic diseases over the life course.

PARTICIPATION IN SPORTING ACTIVITIES

The 2008 NATSISS did not collect detailed physical activity measures, but did collect information about participation in a range of sporting activities and social activities in the previous three months.

Among all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in 2008:
  • almost four in ten (38%) had taken part in sport or physical activities in the previous three months
  • males were more likely than females to have taken part in sport or physical activities (47% compared with 30%)
  • overall participation rates were similar in non-remote and remote areas.

TOBACCO SMOKING

In 2008, around four in ten young people (39%) were current daily smokers, similar to the rate reported in 2002. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be current daily smokers (39% compared with 15%).

Among all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in 2008, daily smoking rates were:
  • very similar for males and females
  • higher in remote areas than in non-remote areas (48% compared with 37%), especially for 15–19 year olds (36% compared with 26%)
  • lower than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 25 years and over (39% compared with 47%).

3.1 CURRENT DAILY SMOKERS BY REMOTENESS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged 15–24 years—2008
Graph: Current daily smokers by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–19 years and 20–24 years, 2008
(a) Difference between non-remote and remote areas is statistically significant.
(b) Difference between non-remote and remote areas is not statistically significant.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey

ILLICIT SUBSTANCE USE

In 2008, one-quarter (25%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people had used one or more illicit substances in the previous year, similar to the rate reported in 2002.

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in 2008:
  • rates of illicit substance use were higher for males than females (29% compared with 21%), especially among 20–24 year olds (40% compared with 23%)
  • rates of illicit substance use in non-remote and remote areas were not significantly different (26% compared with 22%)
  • marijuana was the drug most commonly reported (20% of all young people)
  • rates of marijuana use were higher for males than for females (25% compared with 15%).

DRINKING ALCOHOL

Risk of harm in the long-term

In 2008, just over one-third (36%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people said they had not drunk alcohol in the last 12 months, or had never consumed alcohol. Half (50%) were low risk drinkers and around one in eight (13%) reported drinking at long-term risky/high risk levels, up from 8% in 2002. This overall increase was due to a significant rise in the rate of risky/high risk drinking among young males over this period (from 8% to 15%).

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in 2008, rates of risky/high risk drinking were:
  • similar for males and females aged 15–19 years, however in the 20–24 year age group, men were twice as likely as women to have drunk at this level (27% compared with 13%)
  • similar in non-remote and remote areas.

Risk of harm in the short-term (binge drinking)

In 2008, 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported binge drinking in the previous fortnight, similar to the rate reported in 2002 (32%).

Binge drinking was more common among young males than young females (40% compared with 31%). Rates were higher among youth living in non-remote areas than in remote areas (38% compared with 26%), especially among 20–24 year olds (54% compared with 33%).


VICTIMS OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

Risk-taking behaviours and other environmental factors can expose young people to physical violence and associated injuries. In 2008, one in five (20%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people said they had been a victim of physical violence in the previous year.

Among the 20,900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people who had been a victim of physical violence in the previous year:
  • almost half (49% or 10,300 young people) were physically injured or harmed in the most recent incident of violence
  • more than half of those who were injured (61% or 6,300 young people) had not visited a health professional to receive treatment for their injury (67% in non-remote areas compared with 42% in remote areas).
For more information on young victims of violence, see the Experiences of Violence topic.

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