|National Children's Home - children learning to play instruments|
While there is a growing interest in Australian children’s wellbeing in their middle years, less is known about how wellbeing varies among different groups of children. If policies to promote children’s wellbeing are to be implemented, then policymakers need to know how children in general, and disadvantaged children in particular, understand and rate their own wellbeing.To fill that knowledge gap, a team of researchers at Flinders University of South Australia, the University of New South Wales, and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) are collaborating on a new child-centred study in which children’s perspectives are being used to design and conduct Australia’s first major nationally representative and internationally comparable survey of wellbeing among children aged eight to 14 years.The design of the study is reported to be innovative, as "children were given the chance to comment on all aspects of the questions, response scales and interactive design during interviews that preceded the field trial, the survey truly is designed ‘by children, for children’.
I find this kind of study very moving. A friend of mine, Robert Sayers, recently launched his biography, called Reflections, which is "a true story of anguish, heartbreak and determination (that is) told through the eyes of the eldest of three young brothers (who had) lived a bleak existence in post war England in the nineteen fifties (and then) unknowingly sent to a strange new country, as child migrants." Robert attended the apology made to forgotten people and former child migrants held in Canberra on November 16th, 2009. More recently, we have listened to stories of courage and anguish by those giving evidence to the Royal Commission to Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Unprotected child migrants, forced removal of Aboriginal children (the Stolen Generations), and forced adoption of children born to unwed mothers were harmed by institutions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
We need to understand as much as we can about children's wellbeing to ensure that the practices of earlier generations are never repeated.