‘The Forgotten Generation’: Health Trajectories in Aboriginal Adolescents and Youth

February 2015

NDRI: Associate Professor Ted Wilkes, Professor Dennis Gray

Other investigators: 
  • Professor Sandra Eades and Dr James Ward, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • Professor Emily Banks, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University
  • Professor Rebecca Ivers, School of Public Health, University of Sydney
  • Dr Bette Liu, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales School of Public Health and Community Medicine
  • Professor Catherine DÉste, National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health, Australian National University
  • Dr Anna Williamson, Centre for Informing Health Policy with Evidence from Research (CIPHER)
  • Dr Rob Roseby, Monash Children’s Hospital
Project description: 

Despite the importance of transitions in adolescence to future health, this group – referred to as the ‘forgotten generation’ in some Aboriginal communities – has received little attention in recent efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal health and disadvantage.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people experience significantly poorer health and greater social and economic challenges to future health than other Australian young people. Aboriginal young people are twice as likely to die, for example, and 15 times as likely to be in juvenile justice supervision or in prison.

While cross-sectional data document the disadvantage experienced by young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there are major gaps in evidence and longitudinal studies highlighting health trajectories and opportunities for appropriate interventions are urgently needed.

This project will establish and conduct the first waves of follow-up for a cohort study of 2,250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 10 to 24 years and recruited from remote, rural and urban Aboriginal communities. It aims to:

  • Quantify among the target age range, patterns of: physical and mental health risk and protective behaviours; and major physical and mental health conditions and disability;
  • Describe the social and environmental context in which these young people are growing up including community, school, family and individual level factors;
  • Quantify changes in resilience and risk behaviours and health outcomes over time;
  • Identify factors relating to resilience and risk behaviours and physical and mental health outcomes at baseline and changes over time; and
  • Establish partnerships with communities to better understand factors relating to positive adolescent and youth health and support them to take action to improve it.