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Neglect of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Discuss about the Trauma as a determinant of health among the Indigenous Australians.

Good health is not only limited to adequate healthcare and medical services, it is also determined by the mental wellbeing of an individual and the factors that influence lives on a day to day living such as employment conditions, income, and education. In Australia, important aspects of the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have continually been neglected leading to serious health conditions such as trauma (Smith, 2016). Although the government has made progresses in the health care sector of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by providing access to healthcare, there is still a gap in the expectancy of life. Why? The government therefore, must find ways to address the reasons why this gap still remains and find proper solutions to the problem.

The mass media ranging from newspapers, televisions, the radio stations in Australia have highlighted the plight of the indigenous Australians. Various reports on recommendations suggested by different organizations linked to the wellbeing of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander people have been circulated in the media over and over again but the issue of trauma since remains a reality in the lives of the indigenous Australians. According to Smith (2016) trauma has affected many indigenous people especially those facing racism, the women going through domestic violence, those who were forcefully removed from their families, and those who have been incarcerated. The effects of the trauma have been saddening. Some of the victims are experiencing mental health problems such as depression because of trauma. With reference to the issue of trauma of the indigenous Australians and the lower life expectancy, this essay summaries and analyses four media-based articles that focuses on trauma affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and the causes and effects of the trauma.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/16/we-wont-close-the-gap-if-we-put-an-indigenous-spin-on-western-approaches

Weston, R. (2017). We won’t close the gap if we put an 'Indigenous spin’ on western approaches.

In this article, Richard Weston, the Chief Executive Officer of the Healing Foundation, addresses a major issue of trauma affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. He states that colonization has tremendously affected the indigenous people negatively leading to high cases of trauma. The author further decries that the government has failed to understand the impacts of the trauma and therefore ways of dealing with the trauma is absent in the efforts to effect the change in the social determinants of health among the indigenous people. Weston (2017), states that unresolved effects of trauma affects work, parenting, and participation in the society activities. He goes on to state that the survivors of trauma may represent symptoms such as alcoholism, criminal offences, suicide and family violence (Weston, 2018).

Intergenerational Issues Caused by Forcibly Removing Aboriginal Children from Their Homes and Communities and the Barriers to Implementation of Policies

The course objectives on the concept of colonization is well represented in this article. The article explains that the effects of colonization has led to trauma thereby affecting the total health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The trauma has affected work, socializing, and parenting among others (Weston, 2018). The article also discusses the impact of the political process whereby the government is not able to recognize trauma as a factor to be considered to effect change in the social determinants of health among the indigenous people which may lead to behaviors such as criminal offences, and alcoholism (Weston, 2018).

Weston (2017), retaliates that trauma is also a social determinant of health and that the government should look into this area so as to realize the goal of Closing the Gap. The author contributes that inasmuch as the government is currently putting efforts in closing the gap of the difference of the expectancy of life between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Australians, the issue of trauma should be included in the efforts to effect the social determinants of health.

The aspect of trauma is an enormous issue in the well being of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Dudgeon, Milroy & Walker, 2014). The government should move with speed and sort the issue out. The effects of the trauma are proving to be self-harming since the victims may always resolve to unbecoming behaviors such as criminal activities and suicide (Calma, Dudgeon and Bray, 2017). The victims of the historical injustices of colonization should also be helped to heal and their social and economic welfare be looked into. The life expectancy gap may as well not be closed if the issue of trauma is not addressed.

https://theconversation.com/australia-failing-to-safeguard-cultural-connections-for-aboriginal-children-in-out-of-home-care-68051

Chong, A. and Arney, F. (2018). Australia failing to safeguard cultural connections for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. [online] The Conversation.

Chong and Arney (2018), states that Australia is failing to implement the policies and strategies that have been put in place to safe-guard the cultural connections of the indigenous people. The authors further explain that the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People released a report showing that the government and the non-governmental organizations failed in implementing the policies. The article further states that since the 1970s, peak bodies, aboriginal leaders, and community groups have focused on the inter-generational issues that have been caused by forcibly removing children from their homes leading to trauma.

Effects of Domestic Violence on the Aboriginal Women and the Need for Education and Employment

Chong and Arney (2018), goes on to explain the barriers to the implementation of the policies to heal inter-generational issues. They conclude by saying that if the government is interested in improving the living conditions of the Aboriginal children in the care outside their homes and their protection, the inter-generation cycles of trauma must be broken (Chong and Arney, 2018).  The authors continue to state that the impacts of trauma are devastating to the mental, physical, and social well being of an individual and so not addressing the issue of trauma is child abuse and neglect.

This article links to the first learning outcome of the unit about cultural safety. The authors are decrying the fact the government and the non-governmental organizations are failing in the implementation of policies to safeguard the cultural connections of the Aboriginal children (Chong and Arney (2018). The article is also linked to the second learning outcome of political processes. The authors strongly and frequently refer to the non-implemented policies that have been put up by the government to help improve the living conditions of the Aboriginal children (Chong and Arney, 2018). This clearly shows the government and the non-governmental organizations are involved in this issue.

The issue of neglect of the cultural connections of the Aboriginal children is a current issue of debate. This article clearly contributes by giving the devastating effects of neglecting the cultural connections of the Aboriginal children leading to trauma due to unresolved inter-generational issues such as forceful removal of children from the homes and communities. Chong and Arney (2018), continue to explain that only by understanding the problem of trauma, its effects, and causes can the government be able to develop strategies that can best respond to and prevent trauma.

According to Chong and Arney (2018), it is clear that trauma has devasting effects and failure to focus and implement the strategies that have been put in place to help improve the cultural connections of the Aboriginal children is equal to child abuse and neglect. The government and the non-governmental organizations should also be ready to implement the policies that have been put in place. In case the policies are not yielding results, why can’t there be new policies that can best prevent and respond to trauma?

https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/rosie-batty-feels-the-pain-of-aboriginal-women-ng-b88778610z

Wearne, P. (2018). Rosie Batty feels the pain of Aboriginal women. [online] The West Australian.

In this article, the author highlights the effects of domestic violence that the aboriginal women go through leading to trauma. The author talks about Batty, a domestic violence campaigner, who says she feels the pain of the Aboriginal women going through trauma due to domestic violence. Due to the domestic violence, some of these women have lost their children or members of the family (Wearne,2018).

Government's Responsibility in Addressing Trauma and Developing Policies to Support the Indigenous People

According to Wearne (2018), Ms. Batty was being hosted by Rio Tinto to raise awareness on domestic violence. Rio Tinto was accredited the White Ribbon workplace of the month. In her talk, betty urged the employees to support the aboriginal women to be financially independent to support themselves to reduce the instances of domestic violence which may lead to some cases of domestic violence. Ms. Batty concluded by saying that due to the issues of domestic violence experienced by the aboriginal women, education and employment should be made available (Wearne, 2018). She also said sadness and trauma can be very difficult to handle.

Links to unit topics, models and approaches

Warne (2018), mentions very well the issue of education and employment to the Aboriginal women which links to the learning objective two about the political processes. The political leaders, who are the government, are responsible for the mental well being of the aboriginal women by providing access to education and giving employment to curb the issue of trauma (Wearne, 2018). Additionally, the article also addresses the issue of domestic violence which is a social factor in determining health. This links also to the second unit objective that addresses the impact of social processes on health (Wearne, 2018).

Effects and contributions to the current debate

This article contributes to the current debate of domestic violence against the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women which has led to trauma. Trauma has had negative effects over time. Studies have shown that trauma can lead to criminal behavior, and drug and substance abuse (Dudgeon, Milroy & Walker, 2014). Trauma is also a mental health issue that is very difficult to manage. The article also highlights the current issues concerning education and employment to the indigenous people. In order to reduce the levels of domestic violence against the aboriginal women, the government must put in place access to education and employment opportunities.

With reference to the article, the government should come into the aid of the aboriginal women going though domestic violence by providing access to education and employment opportunities so that the women can be financially independent (Dudley, Silove & Gale, 2012). The government should also be able to develop policies to help deal with the women experiencing trauma to enable them be more productive in their day to day activities.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/bringing-them-home-response-unfinished-20-years-later

This article by the SBS news reviews a report about the forceful removal of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander from their families. It has been twenty years since the report was released with recommendations to the government on how to solve the issues of forceful removal from families but the indigenous people say that the government has not made enough progress on the issues. The article highlights the difficulty of two indigenous Australians explaining the experiences they had to go through during the forceful removal from their families. SBS news reports that for most of the survivors, recalling their experiences still traumatizes them even after the so many decades (SBS News 2018).  

One of the survivors of the stolen generation, Michael Welsh, explained in tears that they were mentally, physically and sexually abused at Kinchella Boys home with his brothers. He goes on to say that they were starved, and no longer used their names but used numbers for identification.            Mr. Michael states that he feels very emotional when he thinks about these experiences (SBS News. (2018).

The other survivor, Mr. Ridgeway Aden said that Mr. Michael’s story reflects the stories of many thousands of people forcefully removed from their families including the story of Mr. Ridgeway’s father. Mr. Ridgeway explains he doesn’t have the memories of the normal things that may be taken for granted by other families like fathers being around or being tucked to bed. The article concludes by quoting Mr. Michael’s words that the separation from his family was the end of life and the beginning of trauma (SBS News. (2018).

The article links well to the political process of the learning outcome whereby the plight of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on forceful removal from their families is addressed. The article shows how much traumatic the experience was and the government is called upon to work on it. It has been twenty years since the recommendations were made but little had been done by the government (SBS News. (2018). This clearly shows the that political processes are directly involved in providing solutions to the effects of intergenerational trauma caused by the forceful removal of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The issue of trauma caused to the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander people due to the forceful removal from their families is a current debate. This article contributes to the debate by reminding the government how traumatic it is for the real survivors of the stolen generation when they recall the injustices done to them (O'Connor & Pirkis, 2016).  The government is also reminded that a lot still needs to be done to help the survivors heal. Additionally, it is a wake-up call to the government this is a matter of urgency to the nation and the indigenous people.

The experiences of the survivors of the stolen generation are very saddening. It is also indeed a matter of concern why the government has not taken the steps into the implementation of the report that was written twenty years ago. The government should move with haste and solve the issue of intergenerational trauma among the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander people who were forcefully removed from their families. These people are going through a lot of trauma which may in turn affect the lives of their families just like the case of Mr. Ridgeway as discussed above (O'Connor & Pirkis, 2016).

Conclusion

Trauma is a serious issue that has negatively impacted the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The media articles above have well-articulated the causes and effects of trauma to the indigenous people. As discussed in the various media articles, trauma is caused by several factors ranging from domestic violence, colonization, inter-generational issues, to forceful removal of children from their families (Dudley, Silove & Gale, 2012). The impact of trauma is very severe and if healing is not done, it may lead to drug and substance abuse, criminal activities, parenting, and work problems among others, and mental health problems such as psychological distress. The articles are passing a message to the government that all is not well and that the health of the indigenous people have seemingly been neglected (Dudley, Silove & Gale, 2012). The government should therefore speed up with the best strategies to help solve the issue of trauma.

References

Calma, T., Dudgeon, P. and Bray, A. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), pp.255-260.

Chong, A. and Arney, F. (2018). Australia failing to safeguard cultural connections for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/australia-failing-to-safeguard-cultural-connections-for-aboriginal-children-in-out-of-home-care-68051 [Accessed 9 May 2018].

Craven, R., & Mooney, J. (2013). Seeding success in indigenous Australian higher education. Emerald Group Publishing.

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., & Walker, R. (2014). Working together. [West Perth, WA]: [Kulunga Research Network?].

Dudley, M., Silove, D., & Gale, F. (2012). Mental Health and Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Elder, R., Evans, K., & Nizette, D. (2012). Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing - E-Book.

Estes, R. and Sirgy, M. (2017). The pursuit of human well-being. Springer.

Healey, J. (2010). The health of indigenous Australians. Thirroul, N.S.W.: The Spinney Press.

Heffernan, E., Andersen, K., Dev, A. and Kinner, S. (2012). Prevalence of mental illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland prisons. The Medical Journal of Australia, 197(1), pp.37-41.

Jefee-Bahloul, H., Barkil-Oteo, A., & Augusterfer, E. (2017). Telemental health in resource-limited global settings.

Jorm, A., Bourchier, S., Cvetkovski, S. and Stewart, G. (2012). Mental health of Indigenous Australians: a review of findings from community surveys. The Medical Journal of Australia, 196(2), pp.118-121.

McCausland, R., McEntyre, E., & Baldry, E. (2017). Indigenous people, mental health, cognitive disability and the criminal justice system.

McMurray, A., & Clendon, J. (2011). Community Health and Wellness. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Procter, N., Hamer, H., McGarry, D., Wilson, R., & Froggatt, T. (2013). Mental health.

Pulitano, E. (2014). Indigenous rights in the age of the UN declaration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ranzijn, R., McConnochie, K., & Nolan, W. (2009). Psychology and indigenous Australians. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Pub.

Bringing Them Home response unfinished 20 years later | SBS News. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/bringing-them-home-response-unfinished-20-years-later

Smallwood, G. (2015). Indigenist Critical Realism. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Smith, J. (2016). Australia's rural, remote and Indigenous health.

Wearne, P. (2018). Rosie Batty feels the pain of Aboriginal women. [online] The West Australian. Available at: https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/rosie-batty-feels-the-pain-of-aboriginal-women-ng-b88778610z [Accessed 9 May 2018].

Weston, R. (2018). We won’t close the gap in we put an 'Indigenous spin'on western approaches. [online] Theguardian.com. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/16/we-wont-close-the-gap-if-we-put-an-indigenous-spin-on-western-approaches [Accessed 8 May 2018]

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