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Intergenerational trauma

Trauma is generally understood as a person’s response to a major catastrophic event that's so overwhelming it leaves that person unable to come to terms with it. (Australians Together (2017),

In some cases, trauma is passed down from the first generation of survivors who directly experienced or witnessed the events to future generations. This is referred to as intergenerational trauma, and can be passed on through parenting practices, behavioural problems, violence, harmful substance use and mental health issues.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a history of forced removals; policies such as racial assimilation, socially sanctioned racism and violence; and grief over the loss of land and culture have all contributed to intergenerational trauma.

The cumulative effect of historical and intergenerational trauma severely reduces the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to fully and positively participate in their lives and communities, leading to widespread disadvantage. (Australians Together 2017)

Further reading

Intergenerational trauma. Why many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians can’t simply ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’. Australians Together website. Retrieved from: https://australianstogether.org.au/discover/the-wound/intergenerational-trauma/

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