Publication Details

C. Young, A. Tong, J. Nixon, P. Fernando, D. Kalucy, S. Sherriff, K. Clapham, J. C. Craig & A. Williamson, "Perspectives on childhood resilience among the Aboriginal community: An interview study", Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 41 4 (2017) 405-410.


Objective: To describe Aboriginal community members' perspectives on the outcomes and origins of resilience among Aboriginal children.

Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 36 Aboriginal adults (15 health service professionals, 8 youth workers and 13 community members) at two urban and one regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in New South Wales. Interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results: We identified six themes: withstanding risk (displaying normative development, possessing inner fortitude); adapting to adversity (necessary endurance, masking inner vulnerabilities); positive social influences (secure family environments, role modelling healthy behaviours and relationships); instilling cultural identity (investing in Aboriginal knowledge, building a strong cultural self-concept); community safeguards (offering strategic sustainable services, holistic support, shared responsibility, providing enriching opportunities); and personal empowerment (awareness of positive pathways, developing self-respect, fostering positive decision making).

Conclusions: Community members believed that resilient Aboriginal children possessed knowledge and self-belief that encouraged positive decision making despite challenging circumstances. A strong sense of cultural identity and safe, stable and supportive family environments were thought to promote resilient behaviours.

Implications for public health: Many Aboriginal children continue to face significant adversity. More sustainable, Aboriginal-led programs are needed to augment positive family dynamics, identify at-risk children and provide safeguards during periods of familial adversity.

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