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Disturbing Rates Of Indigenous Kids Suffering From Unhappiness Revealed

"We are failing miserably."

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A new report has revealed that a high number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aren't happy with life.

The report, by Mission Australia, found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged between 15 and 19 are more likely to have low levels of happiness than their non-indigenous peers.

A staggering 1 in 10 Indigenous boys who participated in the survey indicated that their happiness level was a zero on a scale of zero to 10 – with zero being extremely sad and 10 being very happy.

Almost 5% of Indigenous girls indicated their happiness as zero.

Only 1.2% of non-indigenous youth said they were a zero.

“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," Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia's CEO, said.

"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."

Indigenous children are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues and are more likely to commit suicide, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In 2014, it was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between 15 and 35.

Indigenous children aged 14 and under are almost 10 times more likely to take their own lives than their non-indigenous peers.

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The report, which was based on a survey of 1,162 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, also found high rates of homelessness.

“Our young people have to see they have a future. 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," Tom Calma, Aboriginal co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, said.

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

Other findings include:

  • One quarter of Indigenous young people reported high levels of personal concern about depression, and around 1 in 5 reported high levels of concern about suicide.
  • Over half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported having moved house in the past three years. Only a third of the non-indigenous youth had.
  • Indigenous young people were likely to have spent time away from home in the past three years because they felt they couldn’t return home. Around 3 in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people reported having done this.

“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," Calma said.

“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.”

You can read the full report here.

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

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