Racism as a determinant of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal Australian youth

Naomi C Priest, Yin C Paradies, Wendy Gunthorpe, Sheree J Cairney and Sue M Sayers
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (10): 546-550.
  • Naomi C Priest1
  • Yin C Paradies1
  • Wendy Gunthorpe2
  • Sheree J Cairney2
  • Sue M Sayers2

  • 1 McCaughey Centre and Onemda Koori Health Unit, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT.



We acknowledge our consultation network, especially staff members of the Top End Mental Health Services and Danila Dilba Health Service for their support and assistance with this research. We thank the participants of the ABC Study for their ongoing participation and the dedicated ABC research team who traced the participants and organised the data collection and recording. The component of the ABC Study focused on social and emotional factors was supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Naomi Priest is supported by a Victorian Department of Health (VicHealth) research grant, an NHMRC postdoctoral training fellowship (#628897) and an NHMRC Population Health Capacity Building Grant (#236235). Yin Paradies is supported by a University of Melbourne McKenzie Fellowship. We would also like to acknowledge Rosie Ashbolt, Graham Moore and Britt Johnson for their advice about data analysis. Sheree Cairney has received funding, paid to her institution, from the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation.

  • 1. Williams DR, Mohammed SA. Discrimination and racial disparities in health: evidence and needed research. J Behav Med 2009; 32: 20-47.
  • 2. Lowitja Institute: Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. Program 2: healthy communities and settings. 2010. (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 3. Berman G, Paradies Y. Racism, disadvantage and multiculturalism: towards effective anti-racist praxis. Ethn Racial Stud 2010; 33: 214-232.
  • 4. Paradies Y. A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health. Int J Epidemiol 2006; 35: 888-901.
  • 5. Pascoe EA, Smart Richman L. Perceived discrimination and health: a meta-analytic review. Psychol Bull 2009; 135: 531-554.
  • 6. Pachter L, Garcia Coll C. Racism and child health: a review of the literature and future directions. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2009; 30: 255-263.
  • 7. Sanders-Phillips K. Racial discrimination: a continuum of violence exposure for children of color. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 2009; 12: 174-195.
  • 8. Paradies Y, Forrest J, Dunn K, et al. More than tolerance: racism and the health of young Australians. In: Mansouri F, editor. Youth identity and migration: culture, values and social connectedness. Melbourne: Common Ground Publishing, 2009: 207-226.
  • 9. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2008. Canberra: AGPS, 2008. (ABS Cat. No. 4704.0; AIHW Cat. No. IHW21.)
  • 10. Paradies Y, Harris R, Anderson I. The impact of racism on Indigenous health in Australia and Aotearoa: towards a research agenda. Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2008. (CRCAH Discussion Paper Series: No. 4.) (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 11. Australian Bureau of Statistics. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Oct 2010. Canberra: ABS, 2010. (ABS Cat. No. 4704.0.)
  • 12. Paradies Y, Cunningham J. Experiences of racism among urban Indigenous Australians: findings from the DRUID study. Ethn Racial Stud 2009; 32: 548-573.
  • 13. Larson A, Gilles M, Howard PJ, Coffin J. It’s enough to make you sick: the impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal Australians. Aust N Z J Public Health 2007; 31: 322-329.
  • 14. Gallaher G, Ziersch A, Baum F, et al. In our own backyard: urban health inequities and Aboriginal experiences of neighbourhood life, social capital and racism. Adelaide: Flinders University, 2009. (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 15. Zubrick SR, Silburn SR, Lawrence DM, et al. Western Australian Aboriginal child health survey: the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people. Perth: Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, 2005.
  • 16. Henderson G, Robson C, Cox L, et al. Social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the broader context of the social determinants of health. In: Anderson I, Baum F, Bentley M, editors. Exploring the underlying social determinants of Aboriginal health. Papers from the social determinants of Aboriginal health workshop, Adelaide, July 2004. Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2007. (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 17. Priest N, Mackean T, Waters E, et al. Indigenous child health research: a critical analysis of Australian studies. Aust N Z J Public Health 2009; 33: 55-63.
  • 18. Sayers SM, Mackerras D, Singh G, et al. An Australian Aboriginal birth cohort: a unique resource for a life course study of an Indigenous population. A study protocol. BMC Int Health Hum Rights 2003; 3: 1.
  • 19. Sayers S, Singh G, Mackerras D, et al. Australian Aboriginal Birth Cohort study: follow-up processes at 20 years. BMC Int Health Hum Rights 2009; 9: 23.
  • 20. Thomas A, Cairney S, Gunthorpe W, et al. Strong souls: development and validation of a culturally appropriate tool for assessment of social and emotional well being in indigenous youth. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2010; 44: 40-48.
  • 21. Mackerras DEM, Reid A, Sayers SM, et al. Growth and morbidity in children in the Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study: the urban–remote differential. Med J Aust 2003; 178: 56-60. <MJA full text>
  • 22. Minior T, Galea S, Stuber J, et al. Racial differences in discrimination experiences and responses among minority substance users. Ethn Dis 2003; 13: 521-527.
  • 23. Preacher KJ, Hayes AF. Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behav Res Meth 2008; 40: 879-891.
  • 24. DeMaris A. Explained variance in logistic regression: a Monte Carlo study of proposed measures. Sociol Methods Res 2002; 31: 27-74.
  • 25. Friedli L. Mental health, resilience and inequalities. Copenhagen: World Health Organization, 2009. (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 26. Huntsman L. Parents with mental health issues: consequences for children and effectiveness of interventions designed to assist children and their families — literature review. Sydney: New South Wales Department of Community Services, 2008. (accessed Jan 2011).
  • 27. Chambers EC, Tull ES, Fraser HS, et al. The relationship of internalized racism to body fat distribution and insulin resistance among African adolescent youth. J Natl Med Assoc 2004; 96: 1594-1598.
  • 28. Gee GC, Ro A, Gavin A, Takeuchi T. Disentangling the effects of racial and weight discrimination on body mass index and obesity among Asian Americans. Am J Public Health 2008; 98: 493-500.
  • 29. Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, et al. The association between racial and gender discrimination and body mass index among residents living in lower-income housing. Ethn Dis 2009; 19: 251-257.
  • 30. Krieger N, Smith K, Naishadham D, et al. Experiences of discrimination: validity and reliability of a self-report measure for population health research on racism and health. Soc Sci Med 2005; 61: 1576-1596.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.