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4720.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2010   
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SOCIAL CAPITAL


OVERVIEW

To provide a common basis for international comparability the ABS has adopted the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition of social capital, 'networks, together with shared norms, values and understandings which facilitate cooperation within or among groups'.

This chapter provides information on questions related to social capital, which were collected in the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). This includes questions that aimed to:

  • identify the type and frequency of social of interaction people have with family and friends and within their community, and whether people have social networks that may be drawn on for support in times of need; and
  • determine whether people feel they are able to have a say on important issues, and the level of trust people have, in other people and in institutions.

This chapter provides information on the following topics:

SOCIAL CONTACT

This topic encompasses two main themes:
  • children's social interaction with other children and with Indigenous leaders or elders (children aged 3-14 years); and
  • participation in sporting, social or community activities (people aged 3 years and over).

Information was collected for children aged 3-14 years, on social interaction and the frequency of contact with children who are their peers or older, excluding time spent playing with other children at school. Proxies of selected children were asked whether the child tends to play by themselves. They were also asked how many days per week the child usually plays with children of a similar age, and with older children.

Proxies were asked to provide the number of days per week children aged 3-14 years spent with community leaders or elders, excluding those who lived with the child. Response categories included:
  • everyday;
  • 5 to 6 days per week;
  • 2 to 4 days per week;
  • once per week;
  • less than once per week;
  • never; and
  • no Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander leaders/elders in the community.

In the 2008 NATSISS information was collected on community participation for people aged 3 years and over. People were asked about their involvement in any physical, sporting, community or social activities in the three months and in the 12 months prior to interview. For children aged 3-14 years, this information was provided by a proxy. Response categories included:

Sporting activities
  • coach, instructor or teacher;
  • referee, umpire or official;
  • committee member or administrator;
  • took part in sport or physical activities;
  • attended sporting event as a spectator;
  • other sporting activity;

Community or interest groups
  • recreational group or cultural group activities;
  • attended a native title meeting;
  • community or special interest group activities;
  • church or religious activities;
  • attended funerals, sorry business, ceremonies or Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander festivals;

Social activities
  • went out to a cafe, restaurant or bar;
  • visited library, museum or art gallery;
  • attended movies, theatre or concert;
  • visited park, botanic gardens, zoo or theme park;
  • watched Indigenous TV;
  • listened to Indigenous radio; and
  • no/none of these.

More than one response was allowed.


SOCIAL NETWORKS

Information on social networks was collected for people aged 15 years and over, and covers three main themes:

Contact with family and friends

People were asked about the frequency and type of contact they had with family and friends who did not live with them. Information on the frequency of face to face contact was collected by asking people if they had seen family or friends who do not live with them, either:
  • everyday;
  • in the week prior to interview;
  • in the month prior to interview; or
  • in the three months prior to interview.

People who responded that they had no family or friends were not asked any further questions about social networks.

People were asked if they had made any of the following types of contact with family or friends who did not live with them, in the three months prior to interview. Response categories included:
  • landline phone;
  • mobile phone for calls;
  • mobile phone for SMS;
  • internet such as email or chat rooms (including video conferencing);
  • mail (including letters, cards, and written notes left in a pigeonhole or letterbox) or fax;
  • other type of contact; and
  • no contact.

More than one response was allowed. These responses were grouped into the following three categories:
  • landline and mobile phone for calls;
  • mobile phone for SMS and internet; and
  • mail and other types of contact.

For each category, people who had made one or both of those types of contact were asked about the frequency of the contact, based on the following:
  • a few times a day;
  • once a day;
  • a few times a week;
  • once a week;
  • at least once a month; and
  • at least once every three months.

Where a person had more than one type of contact with family or friends, the category in which they had the most contact was used to record the frequency.


Family and friends to confide in

People were asked about family and friends they could confide in. The aim of these questions was to give an indication of the depth and quality of relationships, and the availability of emotional support.

People aged 15 years and over were asked whether they had any family members (not living with them) who they felt they could confide in. In remote areas, people were asked if they had any family members (not living with them) who they could tell secrets to. People who had family members they could confide in were asked how many, based on the following:
  • 1 to 2 family members;
  • 3 to 4 family members; or
  • 5 or more family members.

People were then asked if they had any friends they felt they could confide in/tell secrets to. If so, they were asked how many:
  • 1 to 2 friends;
  • 3 to 4 friends; or
  • 5 or more friends.


Selected characteristics of friends

These questions aimed to determine the general characteristics, and the diversity of friends that people associate with. People aged 15 years and over were asked about the characteristics of their friends, including:
  • how many of their friends were of a similar age to them;
  • how many of their friends were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; and
  • how many of their friends had similar levels of education as them.

Responses were based on a person's interpretation of these concepts and the response categories included:
  • all;
  • most;
  • about half;
  • few;
  • none; or
  • don't know.


SOCIAL SUPPORT

People aged 15 years and over were asked a series of questions to determine whether they had a support network of friends, family or neighbours outside the household, but fairly close by, who they could turn to for help with routine household tasks, or for support in a time of crisis. People were also asked about support they may have given to people outside of their household.

People were asked to think about help they may ask for from other people in their day to day lives. They were asked if they could request help from anyone who does not live with them, if they needed to. Examples of the types of help a person might ask for were provided as a guide. These examples were given verbally to people in remote areas and via the use of prompt cards in non-remote areas. Examples included:
  • looking after the house/pets/garden while away;
  • collecting mail while away;
  • minding a child for a brief period;
  • helping with moving or lifting things;
  • helping out while sick or injured; and
  • borrowing tools or equipment.

Aside from asking for help on a day to day basis, people were asked if they were able to get support in a time of crisis. Time of crisis refers to a time of trouble which is out of the ordinary for most people, for example:
  • sudden sickness;
  • death of a partner/spouse;
  • loss of job;
  • breakdown of marriage/relationship; or
  • fire or flood.

Support could be in the form of emotional, physical or financial help. The question wording used to collect this information was slightly different for remote and non-remote areas. In remote areas people were asked if they could ask somebody who does not live with them for help/support if they were having serious problems. In non-remote areas people were asked if they could ask somebody who does not live with them for support in a time of crisis. Examples of the types of support a person might ask for were provided as a guide. These examples were given verbally to people in remote areas and via the use of prompt cards for people in non-remote areas. Examples included:
  • providing emergency money/food/accommodation;
  • helping out when the person has a serious injury or illness;
  • helping to maintain work/family responsibilities; and
  • providing advice/emotional support.

People who said they could ask somebody for support in a time of crisis then nominated all of the people they could ask, based on the following list:
  • friend;
  • neighbour;
  • family member;
  • work colleague;
  • community, charity or religious organisation;
  • local council or other government services;
  • health, legal or financial professional; and
  • other.

More than one response was allowed.

People aged 15 years and over were also asked if they provided any help or support to people who did not live with them. They were first asked if they provide any of the following types of support for any relatives (including children) who do not live with them:
  • money to help pay rent/bond/other housing costs;
  • provide or pay for food;
  • provide or pay for clothing;
  • let them borrow your car;
  • drive them places;
  • pay for educational/schooling costs/textbooks;
  • give them spending money;
  • give them money to pay bills/meet debt;
  • give them money to buy big cost items;
  • child support payments; or
  • other.

More than one response was allowed. They may have also said that no support was provided or they had no relatives outside the household. People were then asked if they helped anyone who does not live with them with any of the following activities, in the four weeks prior to interview. Response categories included:
  • domestic work, home maintenance or gardening (non-remote)/helped around the home or garden (remote);
  • providing transport or running errands (non-remote)/provided transport or went out and got things for them (remote);
  • any unpaid child care;
  • any teaching, coaching or practical advice;
  • providing any emotional support; or
  • any other help.

More than one response was allowed. They may have also said that they did not help anyone. People who had helped someone with one or more of these activities were asked who it was they helped, based on the following:
  • relative in another house;
  • friend;
  • neighbour;
  • work colleagues; or
  • other person.

More than one response was allowed.


SENSE OF EFFICACY WITHIN COMMUNITY

The 2008 NATSISS collected information about a person's sense of efficacy within the community. This information includes:
  • whether someone personally knows a member of parliament, local government or someone in an organisation who they could contact for information or advice; and
  • how often a person feels they are able to have a say on important issues.

People aged 15 years and over were asked if they personally know a member of State or Federal parliament, or local government, that they would feel comfortable contacting for information or advice. People who lived in non-remote areas were also asked if they personally know someone, in any of the following types of organisations, that they would feel comfortable contacting for information or advice:
  • State or Territory government department;
  • Federal government department;
  • local council;
  • legal system;
  • health care;
  • trade union;
  • political party;
  • media;
  • university/TAFE/business college;
  • religious/spiritual group;
  • school related group;
  • big business;
  • small business; or
  • none of the above.

More than one response was allowed.

People were also asked how often they feel they are able to have a say on issues that are important to them:
  • with their family and friends; and
  • within the community.

The terms 'have a say' and 'issues that are important to you' were left open to interpretation. However, the idea is that the person has some level of control over things that are really important to them, and that their ideas are not always dismissed. If a person felt they were unable to answer because they are never motivated to have a say, they were asked to provide a response based on their expectation of their ability to have a say if they ever wanted to. Responses were based on the following scale:
  • all of the time;
  • most of the time;
  • some of the time;
  • a little of the time; or
  • none of the time.

A person may have also said they had no family and no friends, or they did not know. These categories were not available for the community question.


TRUST

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the level of trust people have in other people and in selected community services. The terms 'most people' and 'trust' are based on the respondent's interpretation. A local area is the space close to a person's home, such as their neighbourhood, suburb or community. The first question aims to determine a person's level of trust in the general public, and whether they feel they can go about their business confidently, expecting that people will generally treat them fairly. The remaining questions are in relation to specific people or services.

People aged 15 years and over were asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:
  • most people can be trusted;
  • their doctor can be trusted;
  • hospitals (public and private) can be trusted to do the right thing by them;
  • police in their local area can be trusted to do the right thing by them;
  • police outside their local area can be trusted to do the right thing by them; and
  • the local school can be trusted to do the right thing by the children who attend.

The wording of response categories differed slightly between non-remote and remote areas, but responses were treated the same:
  • strongly agree;
  • agree;
  • neither agree nor disagree;
  • disagree; or
  • strongly disagree.


COMPARISON TO THE 2002 NATSISS

The 2002 NATSISS collected information on whether people could ask for support in a time of crisis, and who they could ask for support. This information is comparable with the 2008 NATSISS. Information on community participation was collected in 2002, however, due to the way in which this was done, it is not directly comparable with the 2008 data. In 2002 the community participation data items were split into sport/physical activity and social activities. Sport/physical activity participation data relates to the 12 months prior to interview and includes the following categories:
  • player or participant;
  • coach, instructor or teacher;
  • referee, umpire or official;
  • committee member or administrator; and
  • other.

Social activity participation data relates to the three months prior to interview, and some of the categories were only collected in either community or non-community areas, and includes the following categories:
  • recreational group or cultural group activities;
  • community or special interest group activities;
  • church or religious group activities;
  • went out to a cafe, restaurant or bar;
  • took part in sport or physical activities;
  • attended sporting event as a spectator;
  • visited library, museum or art gallery (non-community only);
  • attended movies, theatre or concert (non-community only);
  • visited park, botanic gardens, zoo or theme park (non-community only);
  • attendance at ATSIC or Native title meetings (community only);
  • attended funerals, ceremonies or festivals (community only); and
  • fishing or hunting in a group (community only).

The remaining items in the social capital topic were not collected in the 2002 NATSISS.

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