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A profile of Indigenous fertility in the Darwin region: findings from the DRUID Study women’s health sample



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29th September 2011

Demographic analysis of birth registrations and census data show that Indigenous women living in the Greater Darwin region have fewer births than Indigenous women living in other parts of the Northern Territory.  Exploration of the factors influencing these different outcomes is limited based on these population-level data.  The Diabetes and Related conditions in Urban Indigenous people in the Darwin region (DRUID) Study, carried out during 2003-2005 by Menzies School of Health Research, included a women’s health questionnaire that had four questions relating to whether a woman had ever been pregnant, age at first pregnancy, age at first birth, and parity.  The fertility profile of women interviewed in the DRUID women’s health sample appears to reflect fertility levels indicated by the births registration data and thus allow investigation of socio-economic factors influencing birth outcomes.  This seminar outlines the contemporary fertility profile of Indigenous women living in Darwin and presents findings from the DRUID women’s health sample that look at the influence of education, employment, household income and contraceptive use on whether women have ever-been pregnant, age at first birth (including risks of teenage pregnancy and teenage birth), and parity.  The results indicate that socio-economic characteristics might not be strong influences on when Indigenous women start having children or how many children they have. 

Kim Johnstone is a demographer, who this year completed PhD research with the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at The Australian National University.  Her research focused on contemporary Indigenous fertility in the Northern Territory and explored whether current fertility profiles were indicative of stalled demographic transition.  She has worked in research and policy roles in Australia and New Zealand and is particularly interested in how the different population profiles of colonised and colonising populations affect the impact of government policy.