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New Stolen Generations resources to guide aged care sector and medical experts

New resources for the aged care sector and medical professionals to better support Stolen Generations survivors was launched at Parliament House last week by Minister for Indigenous Australians, and former Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM.

Stolen Generations survivors often struggle interacting with aged care staff, dentists and other services. [Source: Shutterstock]
Stolen Generations survivors often struggle interacting with aged care staff, dentists and other services. [Source: Shutterstock]

The resources were developed by The Healing Foundation, a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation who supports the healing of the Stolen Generation, and had input from Stolen Generation survivors and aged care peak bodies, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Dental Association, Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) and the Aged Care Industry Association.

Stolen Generations survivors often struggle interacting with aged care staff, dentists and other services, says The Healing Foundation’s Chair Professor, Steve Larkin.

“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," explains Professor Larkin.

“Everyday 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."

The new resources are part of the Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project and include awareness facts sheets about the best ways to provide services to the Stolen Generations without triggering trauma.

The fact sheets have practical tips, are tailored for each profession, and show staff and management how to improve their services when it involves Stolen Generations survivors.

Stolen Generations survivor and member of the Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group, Geoff Cooper, says he hopes the resources will help the aged care sector and medical professionals provide better care, services and awareness when treating Stolen Generations survivors.

“Little changes can make a big difference to how we feel when we walk into a service,” says Geoff. 

“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 action plan was funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2017, following the 20th anniversary of 1997 Bringing them Home report, which highlighted the needs of Stolen Generations and their descendants.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHS) conducted an analysis of Stolen Generations survivors in Australia, as part of the Action Plan for Healing project, finding over 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia and by 2023, they will be aged over 50 and eligible for aged care.

Professor Larkin says, “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.

 "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 Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Damian Mitsch, says the organisation was proud to support 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,” says Mr Mitsch.

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 [General Practitioners] (GPs) to identify and understand the impacts of trauma for their patients,” says Associate Professor O’Mara.

“These are principles of good clinical practice, which is beneficial for all patients.”

CEO of ACSA, Patricia Sparrow, says 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,” says Ms Sparrow.

“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.”

The resources will also be developed for hospitals, allied health professionals and disability services.

To access the fact sheets, they can be downloaded from The Healing Foundation website here.

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