Maternal education and child health: An exploratory investigation in a Central Australian Aboriginal community

Maternal education and child health: An exploratory investigation in a Central Australian Aboriginal community Report

Occassional Paper Series

  • Author(s): Ewald, D., Boughton, B.
  • Published: 2002
  • Publisher: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health

Abstract: International research has established that education, and particularly maternal education, is a strong determinant of child health and survival. In the setting of Australian Aboriginal health, the little research that has been done suggests the association is not so straightforward. This paper reports on an opportunistic exploratory project utilising child health and adult education data obtained from an evaluation of health outcomes associated with a housing and sewerage project in a large Central Australian community. Our aim was to explore the association between ‘carer-mothers’ (not always the biological mother) education and their children’s health, using combined qualitative action research and quantitative methods. Health markers for 183 children included trachoma, scabies, growth indices and purulent skin sores, nose or ears. Education markers for 123 ‘carer-mothers’ included years of schooling, qualifications, literacy, having attended a boarding college and employment. Most data fields were incomplete. The data were examined for statistical associations between education, employment and health. We sought both to gather an understanding of community beliefs about the association between education and health and to provide information on the international research experience in this field. The quantitative data gathering process, which involved a range of people, was combined with and used as a vehicle for qualitative discussions and workshops, assisting people to become more active in health and education debates. We found a trend for better health among children whose ‘carer-mothers’ were employed, but not for those whose mothers had more education. Our community informants generally held the view that education was linked with better health, but describing the pathway(s) proved difficult. There was a high level of concern about the state of physical and social health of young people in the community. We discuss lessons learnt from conducting this type of work in Central Australia and highlight some aspects of the possible associations between education, employment and health for future research.

Notes: ISBN 1 876831 90 1

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Suggested Citation
Ewald, D., Boughton, B., 2002, Maternal education and child health: An exploratory investigation in a Central Australian Aboriginal community, Report, viewed 15 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3870.

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