Regular ‘usual care’ health checks vital for Stolen Generations survivors during COVID-19 pandemic

The Healing Foundation is supporting calls from Health Ministers and health organisations for people to maintain their regular health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that regular health checks are vital for the most vulnerable in the community, which includes Stolen Generations survivors.

“Stolen Generations survivors endured trauma and grief as a result of their forced removal from family, community, and culture,” Ms Petersen said.

“The impact of this and in many cases the added trauma of abuse, exploitation, and racism are known.

“Sixty-seven per cent of survivors live with a disability or restrictive long-term condition.

“Thirty-nine per cent report poor mental health.

“All Australians are exposed to higher levels of stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health of people with complex and chronic health conditions is under even greater pressure.”

The Healing Foundation developed resources for healthcare professionals – GPs, dentists, and aged care services – who provide care to Stolen Generations survivors.

They outline common triggers for Stolen Generations survivors that include reminders of childhood trauma, for example:

· Being touched, particularly without permission or during intimate examinations and procedures;

· Clinical settings resembling a dormitory or institution;

· Situations that bring back feelings of the lack of control they experienced when they were taken from their families, including dealing with large bureaucracies like the health system;

· a tone of voice, such as a person projecting authority; and

· a look on someone’s face, or a gesture.

These resources were launched by Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM, in December 2019, before the full impact of the devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Petersen said the importance of these resources is even greater now as the pandemic continues to affect the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“It is important that vulnerable and chronically ill people have ongoing access to their regular health care at this critical time, and it is important that their special needs are addressed,” Ms Petersen said.

“Telehealth is playing a key role in keeping healthcare providers and patients connected, but it may not be appropriate in every situation to meet the complex and special needs of Stolen Generations survivors.

“Stolen Generations survivors require specialised care and interaction in healthcare settings.

“When interacting with Stolen Generations survivors and their families, it’s helpful to recognise the trauma that many people carry.”

The resources 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.

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 at:

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis conducted as part of The Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project found there are more than 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia today.

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to heal trauma caused by the widespread and deliberate disruption of populations, cultures and languages over 230 years. This includes specific actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

Media contact: Ben O’Halloran – 0474 499 911 or

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