Publication Details

K. F. Clapham, F. Khavarpour, R. J. Bolt, M. Stevenson & S. Su, "Researching the safety of Indigenous children and youth: an urban perspective", in Urban Health: Strengthening our voice, culture and partnerships (eds B. Mccoy, N. Poroch & P. Stewart), (AIATSIS Research Publications, Canberra, 2012) 47-58.


Injury is one of the leading causes of Indigenous mortality in Australia and safety in Indigenous communities has become increasingly prominent in commentary on Indigenous communities. However, our knowledge of urban Indigenous people and their experiences has been largely ignored in these debates; most of the discussions to date have focused on remote areas, despite the fact that around one-third of Indigenous Australians live in urban settings. This paper reports on the Safe Koori Kids study, which addressed the safety of Indigenous children, carried out in Sydney's outer metropolitan area of Campbelltown between 2006 and 2009 (Clapham et al. 2006a, 2006b). The study aimed to increase our understanding of the broad range of factors involved in injury in Indigenous communities and to create a culturally acceptable and effective intervention program by addressing child and youth resilience. The program, delivered to Indigenous and non-Indigenous primary-aged children across 11 primary schools and evaluated in five of these schools, drew on local knowledge and resources to address safety issues. The program was underpinned by recognising that a multitude of factors affect the safety of children and families. Additionally, the program embedded positive messages to reinforce the cultural identity of Indigenous people living in urban areas. The theme of connections and reconnections embedded in our study emerged as children responded positively to the way urban Indigenous identity was represented in the program. Researchers recorded an increase in self-efficacy in questionnaire responses among the primary-aged children after the program was delivered over one school term in five schools. Qualitative data collected from teachers also revealed that Indigenous children responded to the program with an increased sense of achievement and pride in Aboriginal heritage. Improving the safety of Indigenous children in urban areas is complex and currently not well understood. Intervention programs need to incorporate a much better comprehension of the factors that increase the vulnerability of urban Indigenous children. Safety programs must recognise the social and cultural context in which children live, draw on local resources and reinforce a sense of pride in Indigenous identity to build resilience among vulnerable children.