Trauma-aware, healing-informed approaches needed for Stolen Generations survivors entering aged care

Aged care needs of Australia's Stolen Generations raised in royal commission report

Aged Care Royal Commission
Government must address the aged care needs of Stolen Generations: Fiona Petersen.

Government must address the aged care needs of Stolen Generations: Fiona Petersen.

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By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services.

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Between 1910 and the 1970s, approximately one in ten Aboriginal children were stolen from their families, communities, and cultures and placed in institutions or adopted by non-Indigenous families.

On top of the grief and suffering caused by their removal, stolen children were often subjected to harsh and degrading treatment including abuse, exploitation, and racism. Many were also denied education.

As a result, many Stolen Generations survivors live with lifelong physical, mental, and economic disadvantage.

By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services. However, they will have specialised aged care needs because of their past experiences and the importance of maintaining their Indigenous culture.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation The Healing Foundation has welcomed the recommendations of the aged care royal commission final report that recognises the specialised aged care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including urgent trauma-aware and healing-informed services and care.

The final report recommends an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care pathway within the new aged care system which includes making specific and adequate provision for the diverse and changing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Healing Foundation chief executive Fiona Petersen said the Royal Commission has responded strongly to the broader aged care crisis in Australia and reinstated that cultural safety must be at the centre of the aged care pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"The Healing Foundation strongly supports key recommendations in the Final Report, most notably the appointment of a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander commissioner; training in cultural safety and trauma-aware healing-informed approaches for the aged care workforce; free access to interpreters; local services to maintain connection with country and community; and flexible funding to provide care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples where they live," Ms Petersen said.

"Stolen Generations survivors are significantly more likely to depend on government payments, not own their own home, and to live alone compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the same age," Ms Petersen said. "On top of this, Stolen Generations survivors are worried about the future for their families.

"Addressing these needs requires effort at all levels to co-design policies and programs that are trauma-aware and healing-informed, and that enable Stolen Generations survivors to live with dignity and respect, with the knowledge that their families will thrive into the future.

"Stolen Generations survivors are more likely than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of similar ages to feel discriminated against, and to have problems accessing services.

"They are often suspicious and fearful of government and frequently experience mainstream services as racist and exclusionary.

"With the entire Stolen Generations population eligible for aged care by 2022-23, it is essential that they are offered more holistic social and cultural support in order to access the services they need.

"It is pleasing that the royal commission final report has acknowledged and responded to the complex and tragic circumstances and needs of Stolen Generations survivors, and provided the Government with targeted, practical and compassionate recommendations," said Ms Petersen.

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