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Childhood is broadly conceived to be the time from birth through the teenage years, and it is a critical time of social, emotional, physical and psychological development. Adolescence is an incredibly complex transition period, and it is during this second decade of life that social and economic inequities tend to manifest starkly.

Many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also struggling with health, developmental and behavioural issues as a result of traumatic childhood experiences, and historical and contemporary policies and practices which continue to contribute to disparities in health and social justice outcomes.

There is an increasing body of evidence, however, demonstrating that strong cultural links and practices – for example, extended family, access to traditional land, revitalisation of traditional languages, learning dance and story, understanding traditional roles and responsibilities – are protective factors and improve childhood and adolescent resilience against emotional and behavioural problems.