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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Indigenous teens happy despite obstacles, landmark study shows

Date posted: 27 January 2012

The first study to investigate the happiness of Indigenous Australian teenagers has revealed a story of resilience in the face of adversity.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University study involving 504 Indigenous adolescents found that levels of subjective wellbeing (SWB) - the scientific term for happiness - amongst Indigenous adolescents were on average comparable to those of non-Indigenous Australian adults.

Lead investigator Dr Adrian Tomyn said that while there had been extensive research conducted on disadvantage among Indigenous young people, this study was the first to measure happiness - a human trait related to resilience.

'There is an assumption that because Indigenous Australians score poorly on objective measures of quality of life such as health, education, employment and housing, they would have equally poor levels of subjective wellbeing,' Dr Tomyn, a lecturer in RMIT's School of Health Sciences, said.

'But our study has revealed that Indigenous adolescents are, on average, as happy with their lives as the general Australian population - a sign of great resilience in the face of adverse circumstances.'

Key findings of the study were:


Last updated: 27 January 2012
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