We are a nation, made up of many nations, in need of healing.
We need to recover from the trauma arising from colonisation, brutal past government assimilation policies, and ongoing systemic racism. Assimilation policies that led to the Stolen Generations continued right up until the 1970s.
Stolen children lost connection to family, land, culture, and language, and were taken to homes and institutions where they were often abused, neglected, and unloved. The mothers, fathers, families, and communities who were left behind also suffered from their loss.
The removal of children created cycles of intergenerational trauma, where trauma responses and their impact were not only suffered by subsequent generations, but also compounded by contemporary traumas.
On 2 June 2021, at the National Press Club of Australia, the Healing Foundation will release its “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations survivors and to deliver and promote intergenerational healing. It also highlights actions and recommendations from the 1997 Bringing Them Home report, that still require proper government responses almost quarter of a century later.
The Healing Foundation will also launch a companion report, which it commissioned from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19. This report presents the most up-to-date detailed comparative analyses on a range of health and socioeconomic characteristics between the Stolen Generations aged 50 and over, other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are also aged 50 and over but who were not removed from their families, and the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over.
Together, these reports represent the unmet and growing needs in health, aged care, education, social justice, and equity for survivors and their families.
The Make Healing Happen report tells policy makers how to restore dignity for those who have suffered and how to ease the burden they had no say in having to carry. It recognises the centrality of self-determination and the strengths of First Nations cultures in healing historical trauma and driving an intergenerational healing movement. We must use this knowledge as a catalyst for redoubling our efforts to right the wrongs of the past so that there is finally justice and healing for our ageing Stolen Generations survivors.
We must make healing happen – urgently. It’s time to act.
Fiona Cornforth is a Wuthathi descendant of the far northeast cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands. Fiona has an extensive background working as part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' community, business, and government initiatives for better outcomes and impact. On a foundation of senior and leadership roles in the community, and all tiers of government, she has used management degrees and tertiary teaching accreditation to raise awareness around the impacts of intergenerational trauma and the power and strengths of First Nations peoples' cultures for healing. Fiona has gained experience and perspectives in education, leadership, and business development globally, and shares a message of celebration and gratitude for the greatness of ancestors, elders, and the ontology and authority that holds her and her family.
The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that provides a platform to amplify the voices and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their families. It works with communities to create a place of safety, providing an environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories, and be in charge of their own healing.