A landmark study has shed light on the harrowing challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI youth in Australia. The first-of-its-kind ‘Walkern Katatdjin: Rainbow Knowledge’ national survey exposed the stark reality of suicide attempts and pervasive psychological distress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI youth.
The study, conducted by youth mental health researchers surveyed around 619 participants. The Walkern Katatdjin survey, spearheaded by Aboriginal and Aboriginal LGBTQA+ researchers Associate Professor Bep Uink and Shakara Liddelow-Hunt, aimed to understand the mental health, social and emotional well-being, and the experiences of accessing care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI young people aged 14 to 25.
One in two or almost half of those surveyed disclosed having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, with a staggering 19 per cent attempting suicide within the past year.
Equally concerning was the revelation that over 90 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI youth reported experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress. The study also uncovered feelings of disconnect among participants, both from their spiritual heritage and from their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI community.
Participants expressed strong connections to their family and kinship networks, generally good physical health, and a sense of belonging to distinct Aboriginal and LGBTQI communities. Further analysis hinted that support from family, community, and Elders, alongside a sense of pride in their identities, can bolster the mental health, social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI youth.
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