The Childhood Resilience Study: Resilience and emotional and behavioural wellbeing experienced by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and girls aged 5–9 years

Deirdre Gartland, Arwen Nikolof, Fiona Mensah, Graham Gee, Karen Glover, Cathy Leane, Heather Carter, Stephanie Janne Brown

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Background Resilience is a process of drawing on internal or external strengths to regain, sustain or improve adaptive outcomes despite adversity. Using a child resilience measure co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we investigate: 1) children’s personal, family, school and community strengths; 2) gender differences; and 3) associations between resilience and wellbeing. Methods 1132 parent/caregivers of children aged 5–12 years were recruited to the Childhood Resilience Study, including through the Aboriginal Families Study. The Aboriginal Families Study is a population-based cohort of 344 mothers of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander child. This paper focuses on the wave 2 survey data on child resilience at age 5–9 years (n = 231). Resilience was assessed with the Child Resilience Questionnaire-parent/caregiver report (CRQ-P/C), categorised into tertiles of low, moderate and high scores. Child emotional/behavioural wellbeing and mental health competence was assessed with the parent-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. All Tobit regression models adjusted for child age. Outcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls had higher resilience scores compared to boys (Adj.β = 0.9, 95%CI 0.9–1.4), with higher School Engagement, Friends and Connectedness to language scale scores. Resilience scores were strongly associated with wellbeing and high mental health competence. A higher proportion of girls with low resilience scores had positive wellbeing than did boys (73.3% versus 49.0%). High resilience scores were associated with lower SDQ total difficulties score after adjusting for child age, gender, maternal age and education and family location (major city, regional, remote) (Adj.β = -3.4, 95%CI -5.1, -1.7). Compared to the Childhood Resilience Study sample, Aboriginal Families Study children had higher mean CRQ-P/C scores in the personal and family domains. Interpretation High family strengths can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at both an individual and cultural level. Boys may benefit from added scaffolding by schools, family and communities to support their social and academic connectedness.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0301620
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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