There are an estimated 60,000 survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in Australia. Based on the private sessions held as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 15% of survivors are Aboriginal. That suggests an estimated 9,000 Aboriginal survivors.
Not all Aboriginal survivors will seek counselling for past traumas. Many experience mainstream counselling as inappropriate or insufficient. That’s partly because mainstream therapeutic services are not built on Aboriginal knowledge and do not address the unique experiences of multiple layers of traumas, disconnection, loss and grief for Aboriginal peoples.
Not only do Aboriginal survivors experience the trauma of institutional child sexual abuse, if they were part of the Stolen Generations, they also experience the cultural trauma from being forcibly removed from family as children because they were Aboriginal. These children were denied connection to community, country, spirituality, language and culture.
The landmark Bringing them Home Report shows how children were often physically, emotionally and sexually abused by those supposed to take care of them in state institutions, missions, foster homes and other forms of “care”.
This context and its impacts today, including ongoing disadvantage and systemic racism, needs to be understood in developing healing solutions for Aboriginal survivors.
The program evaluated in this study was designed, developed and delivered by the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, an Aboriginal community controlled organisation. Engaging survivors in the design and development of the program ensured the healing activities were relevant to all survivors
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