Life Events, Resilience and Educational Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Margaret WALTER, University of Tasmania, Australia

The life circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are replete with hazards, many of which can impact on students’ educational achievement chances. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are more likely than non-Indigenous families to experience long term poverty, labour market difficulties and exclusions, family deaths and illnesses, low security in housing and imprisonment of a family member than non-Indigenous children and families. Despite adverse circumstances many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children achieve educationally, within the mainstream schooling system and within their community and culture. This presentation uses Indigenous social and cultural resilience whereby social, cultural and identity practices can support positive adaptation among children despite the presence of developmental process hazards as its key concept. Resilience related data are modelled against an index of major life events data (modified for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life circumstances) from Waves 4-8 of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. The analyses assess the relationship between the cumulative and individual experience of major life events and children’s educational outcomes. Results indicate that families and children with stronger cultural identities, higher levels of cultural engagement, broader extended family support and connection to country demonstrate a greater ability to achieve good educational outcomes in the face of adverse life circumstances.