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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander shared cultural grief

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are hurt by violence in the same ways as other children; however, they are also likely to be hurt in additional ways.

"The impact of forced removal of children, dislocation from the land and racism has meant that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people often experience intergenerational trauma. They may experience trauma through direct experience or secondary exposure. However, they may also experience trauma though bearing witness to the past traumatic experiences of their family and community members as a result of colonisation, forced removals and other government policies."

Mission Australia (2016).

Emotional and psychological pain

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are likely to experience amplified feelings of shame, despair, demoralisation and hopelessness or what is sometimes called ‘community depression’. This is a shared cultural grief born from intergenerational trauma and oppression.


Population-wide statistics show that domestic and family violence is the most common reason for accessing homelessness services. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children, the risks are intensified, especially for families living in regional and remote communities with few resources, supports and services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report that they find it more difficult to access housing because they are discriminated against. As a result, children may be trapped in a violent household or experience homelessness. This impacts broadly on their physical and mental wellbeing, ability to participate in education, employment, and their ability to develop supportive networks within their community.

A survey undertaken by Mission Australia (2016) found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were more likely than non-Indigenous young people to have spent time away from home, because they felt unable to go back.


Family violence may also disrupt family and community structures, which can disconnect children from their community and cause isolation.

It may also be difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in remote areas to feel that they can confidentially access services, as they may be concerned about family members working there.

Source: Reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander violence


'With the Aboriginal families it’s pretty hard around here to get houses and whatever else because you’re Aboriginal, and if your family name is whatever people target—oh you’re this family. But Aboriginal families have more—yeah they have more struggles in life to get things done and get things achieved, like housing, Centrelink, jobs ...'

Yvonne, Aboriginal Worker in Understanding child neglect from an Aboriginal worldview, 2016.

Watch 'Boss of My Body'

The video 'Boss of My Body' was created to help empower young children in remote communities to stand up for themselves and their rights.

The song is about being in control of your body and about making choices that are right for you. It is about having the right to say no to peer pressure, alcohol and drugs, violence and unwanted attention from others.

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