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Healthy and connected

“It is good that us kids get a say and not just adults.”

Physical and mental health, as well as connection to culture and community are critical to a child or young person’s wellbeing.

In the Speaking Out Survey, students in Years 4 to 12 answered questions about their physical health and activity, their mental wellbeing, resilience, stress and use of alcohol and drugs, as well as their cultural background, activities outside of school and their access to support.

Here are the key findings.

Healthy and connected

Physical and mental health
  • 12% of students in Years 4–12 rated their health as fair or poor. Highest for Year 10–12 students: 1-in-5 said their health was fair or poor.
  • 26.5% of Year 7–12 students said they have a long-term health problem or condition and 11.4% have a long-term disability.
  • Year 4–6 students are more likely to care very much about being physically active and eating healthy food than older students.
  • Many Year 10–12 students are at risk of not getting enough sleep.
  • Male Year 7–12 students are significantly more likely than female students to eat regular meals every day.
  • 31.5% of Year 10–12 students do not eat fruit and 18.7% do not eat vegetables at least once a day.
  • 70.3% of female Year 7–12 students worry about their weight compared to 36.8% of male students.
  • 1-in-2 female Year 7–12 students reported a high score for life satisfaction compared with 2-in-3 male students while almost 1-in-5 reported a very low score.
  • Most students feel resilient but 1-in-10 said they cannot achieve their goals or cope with life’s challenges.
  • School and study problems are the single most common source of stress for students in Years 9–12: 91.4% of female students and 77.7% of male students report being affected by this.
  • Younger students and male students overall are more likely to have a positive view of themselves.
Healthy behaviours
  • Nearly three-quarters (72.6%) of students in Years 7–12 think people their age should not use any substances.
  • 27.9% of Year 7–12 students either aren’t sure they know or don’t know where to go if they needed help for something about smoking, drinking, or other drugs.
  • 4-in-5 Year 7–9 students and 2-in-5 Year 10–12 students have never tried alcohol.
  • One-half of Year 10–12 students who had ever drunk alcohol reported having drunk alcohol in the last four weeks.
  • 9-in-10 Year 7–9 students and more than two-thirds of Year 10–12 students have never tried cigarette smoking.
  • 11% of Year 10–12 students who had ever tried cigarette smoking (30.1%) reported smoking most days or daily.
  • 28.4% of Year 9–12 students have experiences with marijuana.
  • One-half of Year 7–9 students and one-quarter of Year 10–12 students feel they don’t know enough about sexual health and pregnancy or they aren’t sure.
  • More than one-half of female and one-quarter of male Year 9–12 students have been sent unwanted sexual material.
Feeling connected to culture and community
  • Just over one-quarter (26.6%) of Aboriginal students said they talk their Aboriginal language a lot or some.
  • 23% of Year 4–12 students were born overseas and 1-in-5 speak a language other than English at home.
  • Most students spent time with friends outside of school at least once a week but 1-in-5 never do this and this proportion remained the same across age groups (around 18%).
  • One-third (33.0%) of Year 10–12 students hardly ever or never spent time practising or playing a sport.
  • Nearly all Year 10–12 students use the internet on a smartphone or computer outside of school every day.
  • One-half of male students in Years 4–12 play electronic games every day.
  • Younger students are more likely than older students to read regularly.
  • Three-quarters of Year 4-6 students spent time with family every day and about one-half watched TV and read a book every day (51.0% and 51.1% respectively).
  • Most Year 7–12 students used the internet (86.8%) every day and about one-half spent time with family and helped with housework every day (53.7% and 51.2% respectively).
  • 1-in-2 female Year 10–12 students are not sure they belong in their community and 1-in-3 say there is nothing to do in their area.
  • 1-in-5 female students often go without eating or sleeping because of their mobile phone.
  • One-quarter of students say they can’t always access support for health worries when needed.
  • 41% of female and 29% of male students had gotten help for mental health worries in the last 12 months.
  • A doctor is the most commonly reported source of information for health worries, however, for mental health concerns most students seek help from a friend.

Speaking Out Survey 2019 - Summary report

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More Speaking Out Survey findings