Young Aboriginal Researchers in Community (YARiC)
The Commissioner’s office trains young Aboriginal leaders to be researchers in their communities, helping other children and young people to have a say about important matters.
The YARiC project provides youth-friendly and culturally safe research training and experience for young Aboriginal people in all aspects of community research – including project planning, peer-consultation, data analysis and reporting – creating opportunities for future employment.
YARiC 2022 built on past research training projects and further investigated the outcomes identified in the Commissioner’s Speaking Out Survey and the Exploring the decline in wellbeing for Australian girls report, that highlighted gaps in research and identified that gender inequality and sexism impact on female experiences in everyday life and significantly influence mental health and wellbeing.
The YARiC project explored nuances within the gender wellbeing gap by empowering seven young Aboriginal women in the Kalgoorlie area to investigate the experiences and views of their peers.
The Commissioner and her staff coordinated all stages of the project and contracted Mandy Downing, Dean of Indigenous Futures at Curtin University to design culturally appropriate training in Kalgoorlie, with wellbeing support provided by Rebecca Fitzgerald from Better Heart Self Care.
Kalgoorlie Follow the Dream Program assisted the Commissioner to recruit seven young Aboriginal women aged 12 to 18 years from Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School, Eastern Goldfields College and John Paul College.
The YARiC group completed three-days of intensive training in peer research techniques designed and facilitated by an Indigenous research ethicist.
Designing the peer research project
The group worked together to come up with a research strategy and brainstormed questions to ask their peers about wellbeing, mental health, connectedness, and gender equity.
They decided on an anonymous online survey with multiple-choice and open questions to be completed on an appropriate school day using handheld devices provided by the Commissioner’s team.
Conducting the survey
Prior to doing the survey, the YARiC group handed out information to peers and requested consent forms to be signed by students and parents before taking part in the survey on the day.
In September the Commissioner’s team returned to Kalgoorlie while the YARiC group helped 54 students complete the online survey within their schools.
The YARiC wellbeing survey report
The findings of the survey have been compiled in a report that the girls presented in draft form to the CCYP Joint Standing Committee at Parliament House on 29 November 2022.
The report is a snapshot of views from a wide range of students and represents their views about wellbeing including gender inequality, sexual harassment, stereotyping, and unfair social norms.
While it is a local survey, the issues raised are not isolated to Kalgoorlie and express views common to thousands of students from diverse regions and backgrounds who also raise concerns about gender inequality, sexual harassment, stereotyping and unfair social norms. Similarly, young people suggested ways to improve wellbeing such as educating respectful behaviours, safer communities, and widespread campaigns promoting inclusion, equal opportunities and access to mental health support for all children and young people.
Through the YARiC project’s success we hope to encourage other organisations to meaningfully partner with Aboriginal children and young people in community research and take their views into account.
The Commissioner has previously partnered with an Aboriginal organisation to deliver place-based research training to young Aboriginal people in the Kimberley in 2020 and Pilbara in 2021. Training was delivered online by Ninti One with the Commissioner’s staff providing on-the-ground support to the young trainees (link: Wyndham change makers).
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A key finding of the Speaking Out Survey was that female young people consistently rated their wellbeing below that of their male peers. The Commissioner is exploring girls' wellbeing through further analysis of the Speaking Out Survey data and consultations with children and young people.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people
The role of the Commissioner for Children and Young People includes giving priority to, and having special regard to, the interests and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.