Rural and remote health professionals will be better equipped to support ageing Stolen Generations survivors following the launch of a series of new resources.
The fact sheets for GPs, dentists and aged care staff were developed by The Healing Foundation in collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors and industry bodies, to guide these professions in providing services for survivors without triggering trauma.
Similar resources for allied health professionals, disability services and local government will be released later this year.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that Stolen Generations survivors endured trauma and grief as a result of their forcible removal from family, community and culture, and were often subjected to harsh and degrading treatment including physical and sexual abuse, exploitation and racism.
“When health workers are interacting with Stolen Generations survivors and their families, it’s helpful to recognise the trauma many people carry,” Ms Petersen said.
“Common triggers for Stolen Generations survivors include reminders of childhood trauma like being touched without permission and procedures and clinical settings that resemble a dormitory or institution.
“These situations can bring back feelings of the lack of control Stolen Generations survivors experienced when they were taken from their families.”
The fact sheets suggest ways health professionals can improve services for Stolen Generations survivors, including:
- ensure all staff dealing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients receive basic education about trauma and its impacts
- explain the process and actions involved in an assessment or treatment beforehand, during and afterwards
- if people do share their stories, consider how this can be included in their file with the permission of the Stolen Generations survivor, to prevent them having to retell it.
- avoid using medical jargon or acronyms – in general this can be alienating, and many Stolen Generations survivors were denied an education
- avoid making negative statements that dismiss people’s trauma and grief e.g. ‘move on’.
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report commissioned by The Healing Foundation found there are more than 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia today, and by 2023 they will all be aged 50 and over and eligible for aged care.
The development and promotion of the first three fact sheets was supported by industry bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Dental Association, Aged and Community Services Australia and the Aged Care Industry Association.
The Working with the Stolen Generations: understanding trauma fact sheets can be accessed here and hard copies are available by emailing [email protected] or phoning The Healing Foundation’s Canberra office on 02 6272 7500.