'Australian children are pretty attuned to the sports-mad culture we have.' Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
AUSTRALIAN children are more likely to say they want to be an athlete, while pre-teens from developing countries prefer the idea of being a doctor, a global study has found.
A survey of 6200 children aged 10 to 12 by charity group ChildFund Alliance found when asked about career aspirations 20 per cent in Australia nominated becoming a professional athlete, compared with just 4 per cent in developing countries.
Top career choices for children in poorer nations were doctor, nurse, dentist and teacher.
The survey found 27 per cent of children in developing countries said they wanted to be healthcare professionals and 24 per cent teachers. In developed countries, it was just 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
''Australian children are pretty attuned to the sports-mad culture we have,'' ChildFund Australia's chief executive, Nigel Spence said.
''Professional athlete is the highest-ranked career choice for Australian children followed by entertainer and professional artist or creative professional …
''This contrasts with kids in developing countries. It's very rare for children to nominate these sorts of career aspirations. They have so few sporting opportunities or artistic opportunities so for those to be career choices is just not in their frame of reference.''
The survey also found climate change was a much greater concern for Australian children than their peers. Fifteen per cent of Australian children said they were concerned about climate change, compared with 2 per cent of children in developing countries.
''It could be that there's been a level of public debate in Australia and that has aroused concerns,'' Mr Spence said. ''Children are obviously aware of the drought and the floods and that's contributed to their concerns.''
Ellen Sandell, national director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, said her work in schools showed Australian children were well aware of climate change and frightened about its implications.
''We've had to completely change our strategy around young people,'' she said.
''Originally we were focusing on education but we've realised they already know about climate change. What they want to know is what they can do about it. They are just really scared.''
Children from 47 countries took part in the survey, with 123 children from Australia responding.