Intergenerational Trauma: My Humble Two Cents For First Nations Australians

Australian Geographic: Laura Dance Festival
Aurukun Elder, Cape York, Australia.

Every year I hear Australians say “Why should I say sorry? I didn’t do anything!”, “If their culture is so good why did they adopt ours?” or “Why do they drink so much and waste their money?” “That was so long ago! Why can’t they move on and get over it?” So, intergenerational trauma does not work that way. You don’t just get over Genocide. ❤️ #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe

Or school kids calling you the [James] “Cook Killer!” because the History Teacher taught it. No parents to cry to. You were taken away. Or going to Church listening to migrant children allowed to speak Italian or Japanese, yet strictly banned from speaking your language.

Or being told you are an alcoholic and terrible with money when you made an absolute fortune from your Art or being a professional athlete but were forbidden from buying a house or a car with your pay. So that was some of then. What of now?

Cairns to Aurukun, Cape York, Australia.

“To us, health is about so much more than simply not being sick. It’s about getting a balance between physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual health. Health and healing are interwoven, which means that one can’t be separated from the other.” – Dr Tamara Mackean

You don’t just get over that in 2021 there is still pages of longstanding human rights abuses against First Nations Australians from the top down such as our legislation, policies, programs, welfare, policing, prisons, access to services, cultural heritage, native title. You cannot get over something that is still happening.

This week I was the Psychologist at the 2021 Closing the Gap on Indigenous Health Conference. Institutional racism is still alive. It is still real. Due to historically intrenched factors First Nations Australians are the most imprisoned worldwide: making up 28% of people in custody yet merely 3% of the Australian population.

Aurukun to Cairns, Cape York, Australia.

“The land is my mother. Like a human mother, the land gives us protection, enjoyment, and provides our needs – economic, social, and religious. We have a human relationship with the land: Mother, daughter, son. When the land is taken from us or destroyed, we feel hurt because we belong to the land, and we are part of it.” – Djinyini Gondarra

So did you know that most First Nations Australians in prison have experienced or witnessed trauma? Or 66.6% received a mental illness diagnosis? Research in NSW demonstrates Aboriginal people had almost twice rate of high/very high psychological distress than non-Aboriginal people.

National Coordinator of the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project (NSPTRP) Gerry Georgatos:

“It is my expert assessment, born from the coalface, that all who are incarcerated are trauma-affected. The trauma appears insufferable and debilitates, vanquishing aspirations that the majority take for granted.”

The rate of suicide was double than non-Aboriginal Australians. The rate of hospitalisation for a mental disorder was also double. Today families’ call for justice, 30 years and 500 black deaths in custody since original the Royal Commission.

Roxanne Moore, Noongar human rights lawyer, activist and campaigner.

“If we collectively support the families’ calls and call on governments to act, we can end this injustice once and for all. We cannot, and must not, wait another generation for change.”

One of the most tragic parts of this crisis is that many years ago David Attenborough came to Far North Queensland to make a documentary about the Great Barrier Reef. David Attenborough spoke with local First Nations people about the region. Today scientific findings from James Cook University Cairns confirm thousands of year old stories, song lines, and dances about the workings of this beautiful region.

Cairns to Cooktown, Cape York, Australia.

“So I take this word reconciliation and I use it to reconcile people back to Mother Earth, so they can walk this land together and heal one another because she’s the one that gives birth to everything we see around us, everything we need to survive.” – Max Dulumunmun Harrison

This only illustrates the strength of their culture and connection to country. Yet First Nations Australians were much more than silenced – and still experience ongoing human rights abuses to this day. I find it quite arrogant and/or naive when Australians say “Why should I say sorry? I didn’t do anything!”, “If their culture is so good why adopt ours?” or “Why do they drink so much and waste their money?” “That was so long ago! Why can’t they move on and get over it?”

Australian Geographic: Laura Dance Festival
Cape York, Australia.

“I ask every Australian to think about what the constitutional exclusion says to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, to see our vast and inspiring history in this land not mentioned in the official picture like that.” – Adam Goodes

https://indigenousx.com.au/

Intergenerational trauma does not work that way. You don’t just get over something like that. Even more so when it is still happening to this day. I look forward to the day we end this harmful narrative and commit to the solutions that prevent injustice, intergenerational trauma and suicide. ❤️

Thomas Mayor is a Kaurareg, KalKalgal, Erubamle Activist, Author and Proudly Union (MUA). Campaigning for constitutionally empowered First Nations Voice: #UluruStatement

“The Prime Minister, the leader of all Australia, asked us, “How do we find the heart of our nation?” So with many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all points of a southern sky, we showed the Prime Minister how to find the heart of the nation.

We start with the truth. The heart of the nation did not come with the ships. It did not grow on the farms. The explorers couldn’t find it. Though they searched far and wide. It wasn’t in the banks or in the ground. Or in the big cities. And it wasn’t in the rule book.

Where is the heart of the nation? The heart of the nation has always been.. right.. here. And here in our voices. When we all came together at Uluru, we invited all Australian people to accept our voice and our culture as a gift.

We invited everyone to listen to our heart and our songs. See our heart in our dances. Learn where our heart is from in our stories and languages and how we have cared for our environment.

We will only find the heart of our nation and make our country better when First Nations voices are heard. Will you help find the heart of the nation?”

Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong

With love,

Dr Louise Hansen
Psychologist
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist

#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong

Briggs, Dewayne Everettsmith, and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – The Children Came Back (2015):

“I’m Fitzroy where the stars be
I’m Wanganeen in ’93
I’m Mundine, I’m Cathy Free-
Man, that fire inside-a-me
I’m Adam Goodes, and Adam should
Be applauded when he stand up
You can look to us when that time stop
I’m Patty Mills with the last shot
I’m Gurrumul, I’m Archie
I’m everything that you ask me
I’m everything that you can’t be
I’m the dead hearts, heart beat
The children came back
The children came back
Back where their hearts grow strong,
back where they all belong
The children came back
I’m Patty Mills, u-huh, with 12 million dollars
I’m Doug Nicholls, I’m Jimmy Little
With a royal telephone
I’m the world champ in ’68
Boy I’m Lionel Rose
I’m William Cooper, I take a stand
When no one even knows
I’m the walk off, I’m the sound of
The children coming home
Boy I’m Gurrumul, I’m Archie
I’m everything that you ask me
I’m everything that you can’t be
I’m the dead hearts, heart beat
The children came back
The children came back
Back where their hearts grow strong,
back where they all belong
The children came back
Royal Patty Mills
Let me take it home, I’m Rumba
I’m the sand hills on Cummera
I’m Les Briggs, I’m Paul Briggs
I’m Uncle Ringo with all them kids
I’m Uncle Buddy, everybody loves me
Ain’t none below, ain’t none above me
Im the carvings outta every scar tree
I’m those flats that birthed Archie
Now Mr Abbott, think about it
Me and you we feel the same
That might sound strange, but I’m just sayin’
We both unsettled when the boats came
I’m Gurrumul, I’m Archie
I’m everything that you ask me
I’m everything that you can’t be
I’m the dead hearts, heart beat
The children came back
I’m the dead hearts, heart beat
The children came back
I’m the dead hearts, heart beat
Back where their hearts grow strong,
back where they all belong
The children came back
The children came back
The children came back
Back where they understand,
back to their mothers’ land
The children came back
The children came back
The children came back
Back where their hearts grow strong,
back where they all belong
The children came back.”

#YouBelong


https://youtu.be/3-wMbFntrTo
“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to all Australians to realise a better future. Learn more and help us educate other Australians.”

https://ulurustatement.org/the-statement/
#IncarcerationNation

https://incarcerationnation.com.au

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
“Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of support we received overnight! We’re able to fund one more Indigenous Psychology student for a full three year Psychology degree from just a 10 minute appearance on ABC #TheDrum.” – Dr Tracy Westerman AM

If you would like to donate, please visit:

https://www.thejilyainstitute.com.au/about-us/
My partner Marcelo Alegre Rubic who taught me do not let anyone control your life. #YouBelong

Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo

Kopika (left) and Tharnicaa (right) were kept at Christmas Island Detention Centre for nearly two years despite trauma informed calls to return them to Biloela, Queensland. Tharnicaa has spent most of her life detained by the Australian Government and is still in community detention to this day. #YouBelong

https://www.hometobilo.com
Trauma Informed World acknowledges and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which this educational resource was inspired. I acknowledge and respect Elders past, present and emerging. I honour the continuation of educational, cultural and spiritual practices and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of people and relationships worldwide. This website contains images of deceased persons. There are also swear words in some of the songs presented that portray intense emotions. This website is not intended to trigger people who have experienced trauma. However, if you do find any of the content triggering, each page has a link to Australia’s National Helplines and Websites for immediate mental health support. These are my own personal views and comments and may not reflect the views of my employer.

Australia’s National Helplines and Websites:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites

To provide the best information possible, Beyond Blue has listed national helplines and external services. All services linked to Beyond Blue are reviewed before they are posted.

Published by Dr Louise Hansen

This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing. While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power: “Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong

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