Chapter 2 Diversity of NSW children

Key statistics at a glance

Aboriginal children

  • In 2011, 4.9 per cent of the 1.6 million children living in NSW identified as Aboriginal. This is nearly double the proportion of Aboriginal people in the total NSW population (2.6%).
    • The Far West and Orana, New England and North West, and the Mid North Coast have the highest proportion of children who were identified as Aboriginal.
    • Within Sydney, the areas with the highest proportion of Aboriginal children were Outer South West Sydney, Outer Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, and Blacktown.

Place of birth

  • In 2011, 7.7 per cent of children living in NSW were born outside of Australia.
  • The Sydney area had the highest proportion of children born overseas, with the highest proportions in North Sydney and Hornsby and Parramatta.

Language spoken at home

  • In 2011, 19.7 per cent of children lived in households where English was not the main language spoken.
    • In Sydney, 31.2 per cent lived in households where English was not the main language.
    • In 2011, within the Sydney area, Parramatta had the highest proportion of children living in households where English was not the main language, followed by Inner South West Sydney and South West Sydney.

Religion

  • The majority of children in NSW were described as Christian in 2011 (66.8%). One in five children was described as having no religious belief.

Migrant children

  • Between January 2012 and January 2013, 6,602 children migrated to live in NSW. Over one-fifth of these children come from Southern Asian countries.
    • Over half (52.2%) migrated with their parent(s) as part of the skilled migration program, around a third (35.1%) arrived through the family stream, and 12.7 per cent migrated as part of the humanitarian program.
    • In general, older children were more likely to have arrived through the family migration stream than younger children.  Younger children were more likely to have arrived through the skilled migration stream.
    • The Sydney area had the greatest number of child migrants, followed by the Hunter and Illawarra areas. Within Sydney, the areas with the highest number of migrant children were Central Western Sydney, Fairfield–Liverpool, Central Northern Sydney, and Canterbury-Bankstown and Blacktown.

Children with a disability

  • In NSW, 8.0 per cent of children aged 1–17 years had a disability in 2009.
    • More than one in 12 children aged 1–8 years and nearly one in 10 children aged 9–14 years had a disability.
    • Just over half of the children with a disability had a profound or severe disability (52.2%).
    • A greater proportion of children aged 1–8 years had a profound or severe core-activity limitation compared with other age groups.
    • The most common profound or severe core limitations were sensory and speech for 1–8 year olds and intellectual or psychological limitations for 9–14 year olds
    • In 2011, 2.1 per cent of NSW Children had a need for assistance in a core activity.

Aboriginal children

The Australian Census of Population and Housing is the best source of demographic data about Aboriginal people in NSW. The 2011 Census Aboriginal population statistics are based on responses to the ABS standard question 'Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?'

In the 2011 Census there was an increased count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, from 62,934 NSW children in 2006 to 74,918 in 2011. However, the Aboriginal status of a significant number of people in the Census was unknown, including 4.8 per cent of NSW children. While some people with unknown Aboriginal status will be of Aboriginal origin and some will be non-Aboriginal, the exact proportions cannot be determined from the Census data. While adjustments are made for these factors when population estimates of Aboriginal people are made, the ABS advises care when interpreting these Census counts (ABS 2006). More information is in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports.

In 2011, 74,918 of the 1,600,840 children living in NSW were identified as Aboriginal. Table A2.1 (XLSX 356.3KB)

The proportion of children who were identified as Aboriginal was almost twice that of the total proportion of Aboriginal people in the NSW population (4.9% compared with 2.6%) (Table A2.1 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The proportion of children identified as Aboriginal was similar across age groups.  In the 0–8 years age group 4.9% identified as Aboriginal, as did 5.0% in the 9–14 years age group and 4.8% in the 15–17 year age group (Figure 2.1) (Table A2.1 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

 Figure 2.1: Aboriginal children aged 0–17 years as proportion of total population, NSW, 2011

Note: Percentages exclude those where information on Aboriginal status was unavailable.

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.1 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The geographic areas in NSW with the highest proportion of children identified as Aboriginal were the Far West and Orana (28.0%), New England and North West (16.9%) and Mid North Coast (11.8%) areas (Figure 2.2) (Table A2.2 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.2: Aboriginal children aged 0–17 years as a proportion of all children aged 0–17 years by area[1], NSW, 2011

 

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.2 (XLSX 356.3KB))

Within Sydney, the areas with the highest proportion of children identified as Aboriginal were Outer South West Sydney (5.3%), Outer Western Sydney and Blue Mountains (4.9%) and Blacktown (4.8%). In Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury, North Sydney and Hornsby, the Northern Beaches, and Ryde, less than one per cent of children were from an Aboriginal background (Figure 2.3)(Table A2.2 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.3: Aboriginal children aged 0–17 years as a proportion of all children aged 0–17 years by area[2], Sydney, 2011

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.2 (XLSX 356.3KB))

 Place of birth

The Australian Census of Population and Housing provides the best source of data on the place of birth of people in NSW. The statistics are based on responses to the ABS standard question; 'In which country was the person born?'

It is important to note that a significant proportion of Census records did not record the place of birth of children (4.5% of NSW children). While some of these children will have been born overseas and others in Australia, the exact proportions cannot be determined from the Census data. For this reason, percentage calculations provided in this section exclude this group.  Some care should be taken when interpreting these Census counts (ABS 2006). More information is in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports.

The majority of children (92.1%) resident in NSW were born in Australia in 2011 (Table A2.5 (XLSX 356.3KB))

Just over seven per cent (7.7%) of children were born outside Australia, with 3.2 per cent born in an Asian country (Figure 2.4) (Table A2.6 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.4: Place of birth of children aged 0–17 years, NSW, 2011

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.6 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

A greater proportion of younger children than older children were born in Australia: 94.4 per cent of 0–8 year olds compared to 90.6 per cent of 9–14 year olds and 88.4 per cent of 15–17 year olds (Table A2.5 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The proportion of children born outside Australia varied by area across NSW. It was much higher in the greater Sydney area (11.0%) than elsewhere in NSW (Figure 2.5) (Table A2.9 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.5: Children aged 0–17 years born outside Australia by NSW area[3], NSW, 2011

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing. (Table A2.9 (XLSX 356.3KB))

Within the Sydney area, North Sydney and Hornsby (16.8%) had the highest proportion of children born outside Australia, followed by Parramatta (16.1%). The area with the lowest proportion of children born overseas was Outer West and the Blue Mountains (4.2%) (Figure 2.6) (Table A2.10 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.6: Children aged 0–17 years born outside Australia by area[4], Sydney, 2011

Source: NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.10 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Language spoken at home

The Australian Census of Population and Housing provides the best source of data on the main language spoken at home for people in NSW. The ABS 2011 statistics on the main language spoken at home are based on responses to the standard question; 'Does the person speak a language other than English at home?'

It is important to note that a significant proportion of Census records did not record the main language spoken at home (4.7% of NSW children). While some of these children will have lived in households where English was the main language spoken others will have lived in non-English speaking households, the exact proportions cannot be determined from the Census data. For this reason, percentage calculations provided in this section exclude this group. Some care should be taken when interpreting these Census counts (ABS 2011). More information is in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports.

Almost four in five children in NSW (80.3%) lived in households where English was the main language spoken. For the 19.7 per cent of children who lived in households where English was not the main language spoken, South and Southeastern Asian languages were the most common (5.4%) followed by Southwest and Central Asian languages (4.7%) (Table A2.11 (XLSX 356.3KB)). This pattern was similar across age groups (Table A2.13 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Very few Aboriginal children lived in households where the main language spoken was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language (0.5%) (Table A2.14 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The proportion of children living in households where the main language spoken was not English varied between geographic areas. The Sydney area as a whole (31.2%) and the Illawarra (8.9%) had the highest proportion of children living in these households (Table A2.15 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Within the Sydney areas, Parramatta (55.3%), Inner South West (54.6%) and South West (54.0%) had the highest proportion of children living in households where English was not the main language spoken (Figure 2.7) (Table A2.15 (XLSX 356.3KB)). In these areas, Asian languages were the most commonly spoken languages other than English (between 41.5% and 48.7%).

Figure 2.7: Language spoken at home by children aged 0–17 year by area[5], Sydney, 2011

 

Source:  NSW Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS 2011 Census of Population and Housing (Table A2.15 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Religion

Religious affiliation

The Australian Census of Population and Housing is the best source of data on the religion of people in NSW. The 2011 religious affiliation statistics are based on responses to the ABS standard question; 'What is the person's religion?'

The 2011 Census shows a diverse mix of religious affiliation among children in NSW.

It is important to note that a significant proportion of Census records did not record the religion of children (7.6% of NSW children). While some of these children will have had a religion others will not. The exact proportions cannot be determined from the Census data. For this reason, percentage calculations provided in this section exclude this group. Some care should be taken when interpreting these Census counts (ABS 2011). More information is in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports.

The majority of children were described as Christian (66.8%). Over one in five children were described as having no religion (21.9%). A further 5.2 per cent described their religion as Islam, 2.4 per cent as Buddhism, and 1.8 per cent as Hinduism (Table A2.16 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Among Aboriginal children specifically, a small minority were affiliated with an Australian Aboriginal traditional religion (0.4%) (Table A2.17 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Within NSW, the Riverina areas had the highest proportion of children affiliated with Christianity (79.5%), followed by the Central West (78.3%) (Table A2.19 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Within Sydney, just under two-thirds (63.9%) of children were affiliated with Christianity (Table A2.19 (XLSX 356.3KB)). Within Sydney, Sutherland (77.9%) and Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury (73.6%) had the highest proportion of Christian affiliation among children.  The lowest proportion of children with a Christian affiliation was in Parramatta (50.6%) and the City and Inner South (53.4%) (Table A2.19 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Importance of religion

The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey provides the best source of information on the importance of religion for children in NSW.  More information on surveys generally and information specific to this survey can be found in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports.

The 2006 self-administered HILDA survey asked children aged 15–17 years three questions about their religion: 'On a scale of 0–10, how important is religion in your life?'; 'Which of the following best describes your religion?'; and 'How often do you attend religious services? Please do not include ceremonies like weddings or funerals.'

In the survey, over two-thirds of children aged 15–17 years old said they never or rarely attend a place of worship. On a scale from zero to ten, 15–17 year olds on average rated religion as four (zero being 'one of the least important things in my life' and ten being 'one of the most important things in my life'). This is much lower than for older age groups (Table A2.20 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Migrant children

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Settlement Reporting Facility provides an up-to-date source of data on migrant children. While the Settlement Database contains some information on migrant children, it does not claim to be an authoritative source of such information. The data is administrative and drawn from a number of sources within the Department and other Commonwealth agencies.  More information on this data source, including limitations, is in Appendix 1: Key survey sources and data reports[6].

The statistics represent permanent arrivals. This includes migrants who arrive on a permanent visa or were granted a permanent visa while in Australia, as well as those on certain provisional visas which lead to permanent residency. The information in this report may represent children who have migrated directly to NSW from offshore, or who first arrived in another state, during the period of the report, and then moved to NSW.

In the 12 months from January 2012 to January 2013, DIAC reported 6,602 children aged 0–17 years old migrated to live in NSW from outside Australia (Table A2.22 (XLSX 356.3KB)).These children made up 19.5 per cent of all immigration into NSW (Table A2.23 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The majority of these children were born in Southern Asia (21.9%) and Northeast Asia (17.1%) countries (Figure 2.8) (Table A2.24 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.8: Permanent arrivals children aged 0–17 years by country of birth, NSW, 2012-2013

Notes: Settlement statistics represent permanent arrivals in NSW under all migration streams between January 2012-January 2013. Data in these tables have been compiled from a number of sources within DIAC and other Commonwealth Agencies. The collection of data used in some of selection criteria items is not mandatory and may result in an undercount.

Source: Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Settlement Reporting Facility 2013 (Table A2.24 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Permanent migrants into Australia can arrive through different migration schemes, including the family, humanitarian and skilled migration streams.[7] The majority of children arrived through the skilled migration stream (52.2%); followed by the family (35.1%) and humanitarian streams (12.7%) (Table A2.22 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

In the twelve months from January 2012 to January 2013, a higher proportion of children aged 16–17 years arrived through the family stream compared younger children. A higher proportion of these younger children arrived through the skilled migration stream. A lower proportion of children aged 0–5 years arrived through the humanitarian stream compared with the older age groups (Figure 2.9) (Table A2.22 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.9: Permanent arrivals of children aged 0–17 years by migrant stream and age group, NSW, 2012

Notes: Settlement statistics represent permanent arrivals in NSW under all migration streams between January 2012 and January 2013. This includes migrants who arrive on a permanent visa or were granted a permanent visa while in Australia, as well as those on certain provisional visas which lead to permanent residency. This may represent migrants who have migrated directly to NSW from offshore, or who first arrived in another state, during the period of the report, and then moved to NSW. Data in these tables have been compiled from a number of sources within DIAC and other Commonwealth Agencies. The collection of data used in some selection criteria items is not mandatory and may result in an undercount.

Source: Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) Settlement Reporting Facility 2013 (Table A2.22 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Over the period January 2012 to January 2013 the Sydney area received the highest number of child migrants (4,979), followed by the Hunter (243) and the Illawarra (154) (Table A2.25 (XLSX 356.3KB)). Within Sydney, the areas with the highest number of child migrants were Central Western Sydney (934), Fairfield–Liverpool (603), Central Northern Sydney (583), Blacktown (502) and Canterbury-Bankstown (502) (Table A2.26 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Children with a disability

A number of children experience physical, mental or cognitive problems, which 'may cause a level of impairment or restriction' in their everyday lives (Muir et al. 2009:94). The prevalence of disability is difficult to determine because it is defined in multiple ways. The definition used here is 'any limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities' and includes a range of physical, psychological or cognitive limitations or impairments (ABS 2004; Muir et al. 2009).

The ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers is a reliable source of information on children in Australia with a disability.[8]

In 2009, 121,700 (8.0%) children aged 1–17 years in NSW had a disability (Table A2.27 (XLSX 356.3KB)). The proportion of children with a disability was higher among children aged 9–14 years (8.7%) compared with those aged 1–8 years (8.1%) and 15–17 years (6.5%) (Figure 2.10) (Table A2.28 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Disability was also more prevalent in males (9.1%) in all age groups, than in females (6.7%) (Table A2.28 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.10: Proportion of children aged 1–17 years living with a disability by sex and age group, NSW, 2009

Source: Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS Customised Report, 2011 (Table A2.28 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Just over half of children with a disability had a profound or severe limitation (52.2%). A greater proportion of children aged 1–8 years had profound or severe disability (57.3%) compared with children aged 9–14 years (31.8%) and 15–17 years (10.9%) (Table A2.27 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

In 2009, most children in the 1–8 year age group with a profound or severe core limitation had a sensory and speech limitation (45.1%). The greatest proportion of children in the 9–14 year age group had an intellectual or psychological limitation (55.0%) (Figure 2.11) (Table A2.29 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

Figure 2.11: Proportion of children aged 1–14 years[9] with a profound/severe limitation by disability type and age group, NSW, 2009

Notes: Children can have more than one disability and may be counted multiple times.

Source: Commission for Children and Young People calculations based on ABS Customised Report, 2011 (Table A2.29 (XLSX 356.3KB))

The 2011 ABS Census of Population and Housing collects some data in disability. The census defines people with a disability as “People with a profound or severe disability are defined as those people needing help or assistance in one or more of the three core activity areas of self-care, mobility and communication, because of a disability, long term health condition (lasting six months or more) or old age”. It is important to note that 5.6% of NSW children have not stated if they do or do not need assistance in core activities.  Percentage calculations provided in this section exclude this group.

In 2011, 2.1 per cent of NSW children had a disability requiring assistance in core activities (Table A2.30 (XLSX 356.3KB)). The highest rate of need for assistance among NSW children was for 9-14 year olds (2.6%), and the lowest rate was among 0-8 year olds (1.8%). Males had a higher rate of disability requiring assistance than females (2.7% vs. 1.4%). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had a higher rate of disability requiring assistance than non- indigenous children (3.8% vs. 2.0%) (Table A2.30 (XLSX 356.3KB)).

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (NDS) is a 10 year plan with a vision of ‘an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfill their potential as equal citizens’.  It was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) in February 2011.

The NSW Government has developed a NSW Implementation Plan which outlines the State’s approach to complementing the NDS commitments.  The plan builds on existing NSW disability initiatives, notably the Stronger Together reforms.  The plan also aligns with the NSW 2021 commitments to increase opportunities for people with disability.

The NSW Government has also supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  The first launch site in NSW is in the Hunter region.

Further information can be found here:

Major plans and strategies - ADHC

www.ndis.gov.au

References

ABS. (2011). Census for Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

ABS. (2006). Census Community Profile Series: Indigenous Profile NSW, Cat. no. 2002.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

ABS. (2010). Customised report. (Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2003, Cat. no. 4430.0). Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

AIHW. (2010). Health and wellbeing of young Australians: indicator framework and key national indicators, Bulletin no. 77, Cat. no. AUS 123, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra.

DIAC. (2010). Settlement Reporting Facility, 2010, Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Canberra.

HILDA. (2006). Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, Wave 6 data, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

HILDA. (2007). Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, Wave 7 data, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (University of Melbourne), Melbourne.

LSAY. (2006). Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth, Cohort 2006, Wave 2 data, Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra,

Muir, K, Mullan, K, Powell, A, Flaxman, S, Thompson, D & Griffiths, M. (2009). State of Australia's Young People: a report on the social, economic, health and family lives of young people, Office for Youth, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra.

[1] ‘Area’ refers to Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, which are the largest sub-State regions in the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS). The Glossary contains further information.
[2] ‘Area’ refers to Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, which are the largest sub-State regions in the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS). The Glossary contains further information.
[3] ‘Area’ refers to Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, which are the largest sub-State regions in the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS). The Glossary contains further information.
[4] ‘Area’ refers to Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, which are the largest sub-State regions in the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS). The Glossary contains further information.
[5] ‘Area’ refers to Statistical Area 4 (SA4) regions, which are the largest sub-State regions in the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS). The Glossary contains further information.
[6] Typical problems include missing data (which can result in an undercount of migrants in a location), differences in the way people understand and respond to questions, differences in the responses because of the particular time the information was collected or recorded, and mistakes in data preparation.
[7]The family stream is for migrants sponsored by family who are permanent residents in Australia; the humanitarian stream is for refugees or others with humanitarian needs; and the skilled migration stream is for those migrating to Australia for work and their families.
[8] People with disabilities may have more than one medical condition that affects them. Some have more than one disability type, for example, a person with cerebral palsy may have physical, intellectual and/or sensory disabilities. This means totals for disability status and type may not match.
[9]Children aged 15–17 years have been excluded due to the relative high standard error (Table A2.33) (XLSX 356.3KB).