Healing the Stolen Generations – the Theory of Change

If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from past trauma they may unknowingly pass it on to others.

Using a Theory of Change, communities are able to address the impacts of trauma using three key strategies to support positive healing outcomes.

The Healing Foundation, through its work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has identified elements and long term goals that need to be in place to create proven community led success and positive change.  These elements and long term goals form a Theory of Change for healing Stolen Generations survivors, families and communities , they are:

  • quality healing programs and initiatives led by communities and developed to address the local impacts of trauma
  • healing networks, champions and organisations to promote healing at a national and community level, including trauma awareness and the importance of truth telling
  • a supportive policy environment where policy makers and influencers understand and advocate the benefits of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing and its long term nature.


Why is healing so important?

We know that healing is key to closing the gap and tackling a range of issues that affect our communities. It is difficult for people to move on with many aspects of their lives if they are still coping with the impacts of the Stolen Generations and that of intergenerational trauma.


Providing a space for Stolen Generations healing

We work with communities to create a place of safety. We provide a space for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves. We enable them to tell their own stories and be in charge of their own healing.

The problems caused by the intergenerational trauma Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander face, include family violence, substance abuse, criminal behaviour, children in out-of-home care and suicide. We strongly believe that by healing trauma, we can tackle the source of these social and health problems.



A supportive policy environment

Healing outcomes can only be sustained when they are supported by policy. These policies should promote truth and an understanding of the impacts of colonisation and our nation’s trauma legacy. This should be done through the education system, as well as across all service networks and to the broader community.

It is important that these policies respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems, leadership and structures. This can be done by partnering with communities. Further ways to achieve this include strengthening the capacity of the healing workforce and supporting a positive cultural identity.


Healing networks, champions and organisations

Healing from Stolen Generations trauma requires the awareness of communities. This can be done by developing leadership in organisations and individuals.

Healing firstly requires communicating the impacts of trauma on individuals, families and communities. It also requires advocating the benefits of healing and its long-term nature. In addition, it is important to celebrate the resilience of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture.


Quality healing programs and initiatives

Effective healing programs show positive impacts on individuals, families and communities. International and Australian literature identifies nine elements present in quality healing programs.

Quality healing programs:

  1. Are driven by local leadership.
  2. Require community readiness, capacity and collaboration.
  3. Have an evidence and theory base.
  4. Combine western therapeutic support with Indigenous cultural healing.
  5. Are informed by an understanding of the impact of colonisation, intergenerational trauma and grief in the local community.
  6. Build individual, family and community capacity.
  7. Are embedded in strong Indigenous led organisations with demonstrated healing leadership or other culturally safe, trauma-informed organisations.
  8. Are supported by effective partnerships across the local service sector.
  9. Incorporate strong evaluation frameworks, communications plans and performance monitoring mechanisms.


Using the Theory of Change to promote Stolen Generations healing

Our Theory of Change is for anyone who has an interest in or responsibility to support Stolen Generations healing. It emphasises the importance of nurturing healing leadership and of promoting trauma awareness. This is highlighted as a crucial first step.

For communities who wish to lead the development of healing initiatives, the Theory of Change conveys elements they should consider. It also discusses the partners they may need to influence and the challenges that they may face.

The Theory of Change provides a basis to build a framework for community led healing work. It provides support to government, policy makers and service providers. It informs them of the mechanisms that they can support and the policy areas they should focus on. This way, they can create the right environment for healing to thrive.


Access the theory of Change here: https://healingfoundation.org.au//app/uploads/2019/04/HF_Theory_of_Change_A4_Mar2019_WEB.pdf

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