New report illustrates link between forced removal and lifelong adversity for Stolen Generations survivors and descendants
Wednesday 15 August 2018
AbSec welcomes the release of a new report into the Stolen Generations from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Healing Foundation.
The report found that around 17,150 members of the Stolen Generations are still alive today, and they experience far higher levels of adversity than other Australians across almost all health and welfare outcomes.
For example, more than 67% of survivors live with disability or a restrictive long-term condition; 66% live in low-income households; 91% never completed Year 12; 40% have experienced homelessness in the past 10 years; and 70% rely on government payments as their main source of income.
As the first demographic study of its kind, this report illustrates the direct link between the forced removal of thousands of children from their families, and the lived symptoms of intergenerational trauma within today’s Aboriginal families and communities.
“We’ve always known that intergenerational trauma is real and has a significant effect on many Aboriginal families, but now we have the data to demonstrate its widespread impact,” said Tim Ireland, AbSec CEO.
“This report shows us that the consequences of forced removal and disconnection from family, community and culture not only last throughout a lifetime, but impact the lives of that child’s own children and grandchildren.”
Mr Ireland said these findings are important to consider in the context of today’s child protection systems across Australia.
“Authorities are still 10 times more likely to remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from home than their non-Indigenous peers. It’s clear that the modern child protection system is far from perfect.
“Child protection authorities around Australia need to really sit down and talk with the survivors of the Stolen Generations, as well as communities and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, about how we can protect our kids while upholding their rights to culture, community and family.
“An effective child protection system needs to address both the immediate safety and the long-term wellbeing of our kids. This should be done through strengthening families rather than permanently disconnecting them from their family, community and culture. This evidence shows that loud and clear.”
The policies of the Stolen Generations era were characterised by paternalism and racism: governments presuming to know what’s best for Aboriginal children and families, and failing to respect their views and wishes for their own lives.
“The time for self-determination in child protection is long overdue,” Mr Ireland said.
“Governments continue to impose their own policies on Aboriginal families, rather than empowering Aboriginal peoples to have authority in child welfare matters as recommended in Bringing Them Home.”
Read more about the AIHW report’s findings on the Healing Foundation website.