Aboriginal Healing, Historical Trauma
"He talked about people living in fear, so many people living in fear, of his generation and of his father’s generation... and generations before that. And many people feared dying, in hospital or near the hospitals... For me, as a fifteen or so year old... it really affected me, and the way I feel that I could handle that Story was to say, “Well, it can’t be true.”
Colonisation and its associated violence and control still exert a marked negative impact today on Australian Aboriginal people. Trauma and an associated unresolved grief have been transmitted across generations in ways that have influenced individuals, families and communities.
Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.
"The psychological impact of the experiences of dispossession, denigration and degradation are beyond description. They strike at the very core of our sense of being and identity … throughout Aboriginal society in this country are seen what can only be described by anyone’s measure as dysfunctional families and communities, whose relationships with each other are very often marked by anger, depression and despair, dissension and divisiveness.
The effects are generational … I recognized all the things that had happened to me through my grandparents, and their parents; their brothers and sisters who I had known as a child; through my mother and her siblings; through my cousins and my siblings. I recognized the things that happened to the thousands of other Aboriginal families like our family, and I marvelled that we weren’t all stark, raving mad." The Hon Pat O'Shane
For many, alcohol and other drugs have become the treatment of choice, because there is no treatment available. “If they hadn’t used alcohol they probably would have committed suicide.” Judy Atkinson
Content Relating to Historical Trauma
What is Historical Trauma?
Explores the nature of trauma and historical, or intergenerational, trauma, primarily through the words of the 2008 Social Justice Report, Australia. Video clips of a lecture from Joe Solanto of Canada, where he describes different types of trauma and the nature of intergener-ational trauma.
Development of Historical Trauma and its Impact
Outlines the impact of colonisation on Indigenous groups in various countries, and of child removals in Australia, the so-called Stolen Generation. Describes the range of symptoms arising from historical trauma. Film of Judy Atkinson talking about historical trauma in the SNAICC conference in Australia in 2013.
Tackling Historical Trauma
Key issues outlined by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Australia, and reflections on the solutions by Sharing Culture. Trailer of Seeking Bimaadiziiwin, a film that focuses on racism, depression and suicide among First Nations Youth in Canada. Link to Sharing Tebwewin, a Canadian educational documentary to help health workers become more "culturally competent”.
Trauma and its impact
Leading expert Bessel van der Kolk describes some of the many advances in understanding that have been made about how trauma impacts on the brain, mind and body. He also talks about his latest book and how psychiatrists have ignored trauma.
Our Strange Indifference to Aboriginal Addiction
Canadian physician Gabor Mate points out how our society is indifferent to the troubles of Indigenous people. It accepts no responsibility. Dr Mate also describes the roots of addiction in two films clips, one from TEDxRio+20.
The First Australians
Find out where you can see all seven parts of the wonderful SBS TV series, The First Australians. This series will help you understand history from an Australian Aboriginal perspective, and gain insights into how trauma has been transmitted across generations.