Research Findings

ACWP is a nationally significant study that has used the perspectives of young people in their middle years (ages 9-14) to conceptualise and measure their wellbeing. The views of a broad range of young people informed the design of a nationally representative survey of 5,440 students in Years 4, 6 and 8 in 180 schools across Australia.

Findings from the survey, supplemented with in-depth interviews with over a hundred young people, indicate that while overall, most young people are satisfied with their lives, enjoy school, and report good health, this is less the case among young people who are often seen as marginalised in the Australian context – for example, young people with disability, young carers, materially disadvantaged young people, and Indigenous young people.

Young people in these groups, who comprise over a quarter of young Australians, have lower levels of wellbeing than young people in the mainstream. They often report high levels of physical and psychological health problems, they experience more bullying are absent from school more frequently than young people in the ‘mainstream’ – those who are not in a marginalised group. Young people with a family member who has a disability, mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction, and young people who experience a lot pressure from schoolwork also report high levels of physical and psychological health problems.

The analysis also shows that indicators of extreme poverty among young people in their middle years are associated with lower levels of engagement at school and learning. On the other hand, in-depth interviews with young people suggest that support networks comprise a protective factor for their life satisfaction and wellbeing.


ACWP Summary Report

February 2016

This report provides a broad overview and summaries of the findings.

While the in-depth discussions with young people and the survey covered a wide range of topics, the summary report focuses on four issues in particular because they are important as indicators for policy, and because they illustrate some of the interconnections between different domains of wellbeing: hunger as a manifestation of poverty; missing school; pressure from schoolwork; and support networks. The report also discusses policy implications that flow from the analysis.

Download the ACWP Short Report


ACWP Final Report

February 2016

The final report integrates the findings from all phases of the project, including qualitative research, descriptive results and in-depth analyses.

The purpose of this report is to present a description of the project’s findings: its aims and methods, summary descriptive results and detailed analysis of a number of specific issues. The national survey was designed to compare the wellbeing of young people who are recognised as marginalised in the Australian context with that of non-marginalised young people. The report therefore includes analysis of wellbeing among young people in five marginalised groups – young people with disability, young carers, young people who are materially disadvantaged, culturally and linguistically diverse young people, and Indigenous young people; supplemented with more limited analysis of wellbeing among young people in rural and remote Australia, and young people in out of home care (because the number of survey participants in these groups was small).

Download the ACWP Full Report


Other publications from this project


Hamilton, M and G Redmond (2019), 'Are Young Carers Less Engaged in School than Non-Carers? Evidence from a Representative Australian Study', Child Indicators Research (online first, 24 May 2019).
Arciuli, J, E Emerson. and G Llewellyn (2019), 'Adolescents’ self-report of school satisfaction: The interaction between disability and gender', School Psychology, 34(2), 148-158.
Redmond, G and J Skattebol (2019) ‘Material Deprivation and Capability Deprivation in the Midst of Affluence: The Case of Young People in Australia’, Children and Youth Services Review 97 (February 2019): 36-48.


Skattebol, J and G Redmond. (2019) Troubled kids? Locational disadvantage, opportunity structures and social exclusion Children’s Geographies, 17(1): 76-89.
Redmond, G, J Huynh and V Maurici (2018) ‘How Big is the Gap in Wellbeing between Marginalised and Non-Marginalised Young People as They Approach Adolescence? Evidence from a National Survey of 9-14 Year Old Australians’ Child Indicators Research, 11(2):459-485.
Skattebol, J G Redmond & G Zizzo (2017) Expanding children’s agency: Cases of young people experiencing economic adversity, Children and Society. 31(4), July 2017: 315–329.
Moffat, A and G Redmond (2017) ‘Is having a family member with chronic health concerns bad for young people’s health? Cross-sectional evidence from a national survey of young Australians’, BMJ Open 7(1): e013946
Redmond, G and J Skattebol (2014) ‘Filling in the details – significant events and economic disadvantage among young people in Australia’, Zeitschrift für Pädagogik. 60(4) pp. 552-568.



Presentations from ACWP


ACWP Final Report Launch: National Child Wellbeing Symposium

The presentations from the launch of the ACWP Final Report at the National Child Wellbeing Symposium held in Canberra on Thursday 25 February 2016 are provided below. The launch explored key policy challenges in promoting wellbeing among young people in Australia.

National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, launched the final Australia Child Wellbeing Project report and database at the Symposium. Many of the issues raised were informed by the findings from the national survey of over 5,400 young people aged 8–14 years, carried out as part of the ACWP.  The Panel discussions and their presenters included:

Young people’s wellbeing and poverty

  • Professor Peter Saunders, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
  • Associate Professor Sharon Bessell, Australian National University

From Hawke’s child poverty pledge to today: have we lost our way on child poverty?
Dr Cassandra Goldie

  Putting the Pieces Together: Children, Communities and Social Capital in Australia (2014)
Associate Professor Sharon Bessell and Jan Mason

  Communities matter: Children’s views on communities in Australia (2014)
Associate Professor Sharon Bessell

Young people’s wellbeing and learning

  • Dr Jen Skattebol, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Sue Thomson, Australian Council for Educational Research
  • Dr Petra Lietz, Australian Council for Educational Research
  • Associate Professor Gerry Redmond, Flinders University

ACWP – Findings from the School Domain
Dr Petra Lietz, Dr Sue Thomson, Elizabeth O’Grady, Mollie Tobin

Young people’s wellbeing and protective factors

  • Dr Jen Skattebol, University of New South Wales
  • Mr Bill Wilson, Chair, Moorundie Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, Murray Bridge, SA
  • Mr Dan Jarrad, Principal, Elizabeth Grove Primary School, SA
  • Mr Patrick Burford, Australian Government Department of Education and Training

Young people’s health

  • Associate Professor Gerry Redmond, Flinders University
  • Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, University of York (pre-recorded presentation)
  • Professor Fiona Brooks, University of Technology Sydney and University of Hertfordshire, UK
  • Associate Professor Ben Edwards, Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Professor George Patton, Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children’s

Australian children in comparative perspective
Professor Jonathan Bradshaw

Health trends in adolescence protective health assets and new risks For adolescents
Professor Fiona Brooks

 Building the evidence base, the complementary role of monitoring and longitudinal studies of children
Associate Professor Ben Edwards with Galina Daraganova, Killian Mullan, Suzanne Vassallo and Jennifer Renda

Young people in the middle years: A brief overview of what we know
Professor George Patton




Previous related projects

Making a Difference: building on children's perspectives on economic adversity

Funder: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, 2008-2012

Team: Bettina Cass, Gerry Redmond, Jen Skattebol, Megan Bedford, Peter Saunders

Outline: The Making a Difference Project was designed to explore the perceptions of children and young people (aged between 11 and 17 years) who experience economic adversity in order to understand what it means to them, how they experience exclusion in the family, at school, and in the communities where they live, and identify what services they think can make a difference. The project adopted a rights perspective which emphasises the importance not only of listening to children, but of using their perspectives in making decisions on matters affecting them.

Conceptualisation of social and emotional wellbeing for children and young people, and policy implications

Funder: Australian Research Alliance on Children and Youth and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010

Team: Gerry Redmond, Myra Hamlton, Ilan Katz

Outline: Measurement of social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) presents challenges for policymakers and researchers. Measures of other phenomena such as educational development and economic wellbeing are reasonably well defined, and policymakers, researchers and the general public are comfortable with several indicators to measure progress in these areas. A number of measures of health and physical wellbeing in children and young people have also gained widespread acceptance. But prior to this project, there existed no single indicator or set of indicators relating to social and emotional aspects of human wellbeing in general, and children’s or young people’s development in particular, that was widely approved.
The report develops a process for deriving a concept of SEWB, and indicators to measure that concept, so that both concept and indicators are consistent with political visions of society, and visions of children’s and young people’s place in it.