Wellbeing and Marginalisation: Findings from a National Study of 9-14 Year olds

Explore key findings from the Australian Child Wellbeing Project.

Date: Wednesday 2 March 2016, 5.30pm–7:30pm, doors open from 5.00pm, light refreshments from 6.30pm
Venue: Rumours, Level 6, Union House, University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus

Download: event flyer

Healthy Development Adelaide will host a public lecture presented by Associate Professor Gerry Redmond (Flinders University) and Dr Jen Skattebol (University of New South Wales), and chaired by Professor Colin MacDougall. The lecture promises an exploration of the key findings of the Australian Child Wellbeing Project, a nationally significant study that has used the perspectives of young people in their middle years (aged 9-14 years) to conceptualise wellbeing and design a national survey which was then administered to 5,440 students in Years 4, 6 and 8 from 180 schools across Australia. In particular, the impact of marginalisation on young people’s wellbeing will be discussed.

RSVPs required by Thursday 25 February to

Media wishing to attend should contact Associate Professor Gerry Redmond 

The ACWP Final Report Launch: National Child Wellbeing Symposium

Explore key policy challenges in promoting wellbeing among young people in Australia.

Date: Thursday 25 February 2016, 9.00am–4.30pm
Venue: National Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Avenue, Canberra

National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, will launch the final Australia Child Wellbeing Project (AWCP) report and database at the Symposium. Many of the issues raised will be informed by the findings from a national survey of over 5,400 young people aged 8–14 years, carried out as part of the ACWP.

Panellists: Project leaders Associate Professor Gerry Redmond (Flinders University), Dr Jen Skattebol and Professor Peter Saunders (Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW), in association with Dr Petra Lietz and Dr Sue Thomson (Australian Council for Educational Research).

They will be joined by colleagues from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Dr Cassandra Goldie (CEO, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)), Professor George Patton (Director of Adolescent Health Research, Royal Children’s Hospital) and other researchers and practitioners.

Download: event flyer

Media wishing to attend the ACWP National Child Wellbeing Symposium should contact Associate Professor Gerry Redmond 

 For media inquiries, please contact Grant Smyth or Steve Holden.

Join in the conversation: #childwellbeing

Media contacts

Grant Smyth
Office of Communication and Engagement
Flinders University
Ph: +61 8 82012916
M: 0414 190 009

Steve Holden
Corporate Communications
Australian Council for Educational Research
Ph: +61 3 92775582



Schools vital for wellbeing of marginalised students

25 February 2016: Most students in the middle years of school report high levels of wellbeing, but marginalised students are more likely to report low levels of wellbeing, including lower levels of school satisfaction, teacher support, and parental interest in school, according to the latest Australian Child Wellbeing Project report, released in Canberra yesterday.
For the quarter of young people who identify as marginalised – living with disability, experiencing material disadvantage, being from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, being Indigenous, living in a rural or remote area, or living in out-of-home care – school is one of several protective factors influencing wellbeing. Yet in-depth interviews with marginalised young people reveal that some have avoided school because their family had no money for food, while others recounted being teased at school for the way their uniform looked.

According to Dr Petra Lietz, a Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research and co-author of the Australian Child Wellbeing Project report, schools play a crucial role in addressing the wellbeing of marginalised students.

“Students typically report higher levels of wellbeing when their experiences across domains like family networks, home environment, health and school reinforce each other,” Dr Lietz said. “Given that wellbeing is affected by a cluster of experiences, it is important that policies and services to address wellbeing are designed and coordinated across agencies and sectors.

“Findings from the Australian Child Wellbeing Project indicate that wellbeing for every student in school is associated with wellbeing in other domains, such as health or family for all students, but for marginalised students, a positive school experience is crucial. The good news is that some tangible things can be done to support well-being such as teachers believing in the success of all students, families having fun together, encouraging young people to be physically active and helping them to form strong bonds with others.”
About the Australian Child Wellbeing Project

Undertaken by a team of researchers at Flinders University, the University of New South Wales and the Australian Council for Educational Research, the Australian Child Wellbeing Project surveyed roughly 5500 young people aged eight to 14 years – in Years 4, 6 and 8 – from a representative sample of 180 schools across all Australian states and territories in the second half of 2014.

The study investigated young people’s experiences with their family, school, health, friends, communities and other important aspects of their lives.

The Australian Child Wellbeing Project was funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, with further support from the Commonwealth Departments of Education and Social Services, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Download the ACER media release


Bullied, missing school and going hungry. Report reveals reality of many Aussie kids

25 February 2016: One in ten Australian children miss school at least once a week, almost one in six have been bullied, and one in thirty – a child in almost every classroom – goes to bed or school hungry nearly every day. That’s the disturbing reality revealed today in the final report of the Australian Child Wellbeing Project (ACWP), the largest study of its kind in Australia.

Lead researcher, Flinders University’s Associate Professor Gerry Redmond, said the ACWP findings reveal that young Australians are suffering because of a systematic failure to meet their most basic needs, with the most marginalised reporting low scores in every aspect of wellbeing.

“The Australian Child Wellbeing Project shows that for many children in Australia today, life is pretty tough,” says Professor Redmond.

“One young person in five reported going to school or bed hungry at least sometimes, and were also more likely to miss school frequently.

“Young people who go hungry and the one-in-ten who miss school frequently were, in addition, likely to report high levels of health complaints, frequent bullying and low levels of
engagement at school.”

The University of New South Wales’ Dr Jennifer Skattebol, a Chief Investigator on the project, said all young people had identified their families as their most important resource.

“Young people want their families to be adequately supported to provide secure, safe environments for them to grow up in,” she said.

“Our study shows that young people with strong support networks tend to report that they have ‘a good life’ even in conditions of economic disadvantage and marginalisation.”

Dr Petra Lietz, Principal Research Fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research, said the survey shows that most young people are satisfied with school. “School satisfaction is associated with positive relationships with teachers,” Dr Lietz said. “Teachers who listen and show they care, and believe in their students' success are
supporting student wellbeing.”

Dr Dianne Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY) said the ACWP findings were, “an important reminder that the best outcomes for children and youth come from holistic approaches, which address the priorities children identify themselves.”

“We look forward to continuing our work with the ACWP team to bring researchers, policy makers and practitioners together to discuss the implications of the findings, and to look for imaginative solutions,” said Dr Jackson.

Download the Flinders media release


Government policies ignore children in poverty

25 February 2016: The Australian Council of Social Service today called for the Federal Parliament to reject proposals to cut the family payments of low income single parent and couple households, following the release of a new report showing that an extraordinary 19% of children aged 8-14 years are going hungry.

In addition, ACOSS has renewed its call for Australia to set a clear poverty reduction target as the core purpose of economic growth and job creation.

The Australian Child Wellbeing Project launched today, shows that although most middle years children are doing well, almost one in five children surveyed are falling behind and going hungry. These include, young people with a disability, young carers, materially disadvantaged young people, culturally and linguistically diverse young people, Indigenous young people, young people in rural and remote Australia and young people in out of home care.

“Our governments have forgotten that the core purpose of our family payment system is to protect against child poverty. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is the last leader to have placed child poverty at the centre of his Government's agenda. His legacy of a targeted family payments system has been eroded since then and is indeed under further attack," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Policies of recent governments that have targeted vulnerable families, including single parents, have increased the risk of child poverty. Our Poverty in Australia report in late 2014 found about 603,000 or 17.7% of all children, and one in three single parent families, were living in poverty.

“ACOSS has long advocated for family payments to be simplified and targeted to families who need them most. Yet the Federal Government’s $4.26 billion cuts to family payments would have a devastating impact on some of the most disadvantaged parents and children, especially single parents and low income couple families.

“Our analysis shows the cuts currently before the Senate would see a sole parent, under 60, with one child over 13 years lose roughly $2500 per year or $48, and a sole parent with two children around $3000 per year or $58 per week.

“Most families with children under 13, including those in the ‘middle years’, will also be worse off due to the loss of supplements. The abolition of the $730 a year Part A supplement would only be partly offset by a proposed increase of $262 per annum to the Part A payment (resulting in a net loss of $468). The Part B supplement is $354 per family. A dual income family with one primary school aged child will be $468 a week or $9 a week worse off if it is abolished. A single income family with a child under 13 years will be $822 a year worse off, or $16 a week.

“It is estimated that about 130,000 single parents with older children will be adversely affected by the changes to Part B alone, some of who are already on very low incomes. The numbers affected and the extent of the income losses mean that the changes are likely to lead to an increase in child poverty, which is already concentrated in single parent families.

“This would be unconscionable and lead to greater levels of hardship and poverty, and more children going hungry.

“As the Australian Child Wellbeing Project report points out, 19% of young people who are going hungry are also more likely to miss school, report health complaints, bullying, and low levels of engagement at school. We urge the Parliament to block the Government’s legislation, as the consequences would be too great for children affected.

“ACOSS has put forward an alternative package of reforms to family payments designed to reduce child poverty, target payments more appropriately and reduce workforce disincentives. We call on the Government to withdraw the current bill and rethink its approach to families policy to ensure that low income families receive the assistance they need and children get the best start in life,” Dr Goldie said.

ACOSS Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155.



February 24, 2016 11:30pm: Australian Child Wellbeing Project: Family matters most to kids in 2016. Clarissa Bye and Leigh van den Broeke, The Daily Telegraph

February 25, 2016 12:01am: Aussie students more stressed than rest, according to Australian Child Wellbeing Project report.  Brittany Vonow, Courier Mail

February 25, 2016 12:09am: Australia’s children better off than ever but lives more complex, study finds. Clarissa Bye and Leigh van den Broeke, The Daily Telegraph

February 25, 2016 5:21am: Hungry kids wag school.  Elissa Doherty, Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun

February 25, 2016 11:00am: Our girls feel most pressure in class. Amelia Broadstock, The Advertiser/Sunday Mail