New Stolen Generations resources to guide GPs, dentists, aged care

General practitioners, dentists and the aged care sector will be better placed to support Stolen Generations survivors following the launch of new resources at Parliament House today.

The resources, launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, were developed by The Healing Foundation in collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors and peak bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Dental Association, Aged & Community Services Australia and the Aged Care Industry Association.

Interacting with aged care staff, GPs, dentists and other services is often difficult for Stolen Generations survivors[1], The Healing Foundation’s Chair Professor Steve Larkin said.

“Many Stolen Generations survivors experienced childhood trauma as a result of their forced removal from family, community, culture and language, and sometimes also as a result of abuse and racism experienced after their removal,” Professor Larkin said.

“Every day events can trigger the original trauma, particularly if a situation brings back the lack of control Stolen Generations survivors experienced when they were taken from their families.”

Stolen Generations survivor and member of The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group Geoff Cooper said he hoped the fact sheets would create greater awareness about the best ways to provide services to the Stolen Generations without triggering trauma.

“Little changes can make a big difference to how we feel when we walk in to a service. Things like not making us talk about bad stuff that’s happened to us if we don’t want to, and explaining what you’re going to do before you do it so we aren’t caught off guard.”

The resources are part of The Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project, funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2017 following the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Bringing them Home report, which highlighted the contemporary needs of the Stolen Generations and their descendants.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis conducted as part of the Action Plan for Healing project found there are over 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia today, and by 2023 will all be aged over 50 and eligible for aged care.

“The development of the fact sheets has been guided by Stolen Generations survivors: they identified the key issues encountered when dealing with GPs, dentists and aged care providers, what is helpful and what should be avoided,” Professor Larkin said.

“We’ve been delighted with the level of interest the resources are already receiving from the target sectors, and are excited to see the materials taken up at the practice and provider level nationally.”

Australian Dental Association CEO Damian Mitsch said the organisation was proud to have supported the creation of the dental resource.

“This resource will go a long way in providing education and helpful tips to guide dental practitioners in providing effective dental care to Stolen Generations survivors,” Mr Mitsch said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ Chair of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, congratulated The Healing Foundation on the launch of this vital resource for general practitioners.

“This new resource provides essential context and useful tools to assist GPs to identify and understand the impacts of trauma for their patients. These are principles of good clinical practice, which is beneficial for all patients,” Associate Professor O’Mara said.

The CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Patricia Sparrow, said the organisation and its members were pleased to have contributed to the aged care resource.

“We believe the work of The Healing Foundation in providing information about how aged care services acknowledge the needs, and care for Stolen Generations survivors is critical.

“Through these resources, providers of aged care are able to better understand some of the trauma and triggers as well as the diversity of needs for Stolen Generations survivors, which must be considered in delivering the best quality care for all people,” Ms Sparrow said.

Resources will now be developed for hospitals, allied health professionals and disability services.

The fact sheets provide practical tips, tailored for each profession, on how staff and management can improve services to Stolen Generations survivors. The suite of fact sheets can be downloaded here.

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

Media contact: Raina Hunter, 0402 145 820

[1] A 2018 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found a third of Stolen Generations survivors reported problems accessing services in the previous 12 months.

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