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Employment and Indigenous mental health

Boyd Hunter, Yonatan Dinku, Christian Eva, Francis Markham and Minda Murray


Employment protects Indigenous Australians from poor mental health. Data from the ABS 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) show that Indigenous Australians who are employed are about half as likely to have high or very high levels of mental health distress compared to those unemployed or those outside the labour force (21% as opposed to 41% or 40% respectively). However, some types of employment may be associated with a higher prevalence of poor mental health, for example being in casual employment.

This paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and examines the evidence on labour force programs that can improve Indigenous mental health.