Abstract: While concerns about the mental health of Aboriginal people feature prominently on the health, education and social policy agendas of governments at all levels, there is a critical deficiency with respect to the planning and delivery of services due to the absence of systematic, comprehensive and reliable information on the nature and prevalence of stress and mental health disorders among Aboriginal people.31 The WAACHS methodology was designed to help fill this information gap, assisting governments and policy makers by providing a solid basis for decision making in relation to the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children. To collect information on the emotional and behavioural difficulties of Aboriginal children, we first needed to identify a suitable tool to gather such data. After a search of the international literature, a standardised instrument, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was chosen (Goodman, 1999).4 This instrument has been well tested and used successfully around the world on children from a variety of cultural and language backgrounds. However, this is the first time the SDQ questions have been asked in an Australian Aboriginal context. Permission was obtained from Professor Robert Goodman (Goodman, 2000, personal correspondence) to assess the SDQ for its appropriateness of use in Australian Aboriginal populations. The SDQ was subsequently used in the pilot phases of the Survey. Feedback from this pilot testing dictated that slight modification of the instrument was necessary before it could be successfully administered in an Aboriginal context.
De Maio JA, Zubrick SR, Silburn SR, Lawrence DM, Mitrou FG, Dalby RB, Blair EM, Griffin J, Milroy H, Cox A, 2005, The Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey: Measuring the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children and the intergenerational effects of forced separation, Report, viewed 06 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3705.