The series has the capacity to build social capital, goodwill, and unity by creating shared understanding of our history, and will also help build knowledge so that we can avoid repeating mistakes of the past, according to the Healing Foundation’s Chairperson, Professor Steve Larkin.
Steve Larkin writes:
Intergenerational trauma has inevitable and significant health effects on the children and grandchildren of Stolen Generations survivors.
The Stolen Generations suffered profound childhood trauma when they were forcibly removed from their homes. They were isolated from family and culture, and often institutionalised. Many were abused and assaulted.
Survivors have significantly poorer physical and mental health, and they are more likely to report chronic health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
The trauma they experienced means they are likely to live in a state of distress, which can lead to a range of complex and chronic health conditions.
The children of survivors suffer from intergenerational trauma. They may experience difficulties with attachment, disconnection from their extended families and culture, and high levels of distress from exposure to the ongoing trauma being experienced by family and community members.
Cycle of trauma
This can create developmental issues for children. It creates a cycle of trauma, where the impact, including poor health outcomes, passes from one generation to the next.
Compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, the adult descendants of Stolen Generations survivors are 1.6 times more likely not to have good physical health and 1.3 times as likely to have poor mental health.
This underscores the importance of spreading the word about intergenerational healing.
Following a recommendation, leadership, and input from our Youth Reference Group, The Healing Foundation this week launched the first episode in a series of podcasts to give young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the opportunity to share their thoughts about intergenerational healing and the concept of truth telling.
The first Healing Our Way podcast touches on sensitive and confronting themes around trauma.
It provides listeners with the real stories and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants as they discuss their journeys and thoughts about how we can continue to heal our communities.
Historical injustice is still a source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And we see it playing out in families and communities across the country every day.
Truth telling has an impact on every aspect of the lives of our Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities. This podcast, and the ones that follow, will help people to understand the real stories and experiences of our people.
Stories that must be heard
The Healing Our Way podcast has the capacity to build social capital, goodwill, and unity by creating shared understanding of our history. It can also help build knowledge so that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
For more than two decades, Stolen Generations survivors have been telling Australians about the challenges they face in their everyday life as a result of their painful childhood experiences and the unresolved trauma they continue to carry.
They have also documented their fears about a legacy of trauma, and associated disadvantage unknowingly passed on to their families.
The podcast provides a new perspective on the intergenerational impact of removal and uncovers individual stories of loss, isolation, abuse, sexual assault, poor health, and neglect when children were taken from their homes to be institutionalised and trained for domestic servitude, farm work, or fostered with non-Indigenous families.
The trauma we face in our day-to-day lives, either directly or indirectly, has its genesis in the violent early history of Australia’s frontier wars and the policies that followed, including the forced removal of children.
By showing that the Stolen Generations and their families experience greater levels of adversity than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are already at a disadvantage in Australia, we can see a direct link between traumatic childhood experiences, intergenerational trauma, and many of the social and health issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today.
While the podcasts will consider sensitive themes, they also highlight the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture.
They are stories that must be heard by all Australians.
The first Healing Our Way podcast episode features Kinchela Boys Home survivor, Uncle Michael Welsh, and his son, Bobby Dixon; and Stolen Generations descendant, Aunty Leslie Franks, with former Youth Reference Group member, Blayke Tatafu.