Addiction and Psychological Pain

During the many years I spent working in the addiction and mental health field, first as a neuroscientist and later helping empower people to facilitate their recovery (healing), I rarely heard the word ‘trauma’ being used.

Few practitioners I met mentioned that the person with the substance use problem might be self-medicating to ameliorate psychological pain. And yet in society, there were plenty of people visiting their doctor and obtaining a prescription of benzodiazepines such as librium, which are highly addictive substances, or antidepressants, which also produce problems, to help them deal with unpleasant psychological states of anxiety or depression.

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Shocking History Impacts on the Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples

Professor Marion Kickett relates how she and the other Noongar children in York, Western Australia, were not allowed to swim in a particular area of the river. When she was fifteen, her father described how he and his friends were similarly told by their parents not to swim in that location. He also related the shocking story of The Sandy.

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‘Ruby’s Story’: Marion Kickett

It’s hard to believe that it is over seven years ago since I launched Sharing Culture, an educational initiative to facilitate the healing of intergenerational trauma. It is also over seven years since Michael Liu and I went out with Professor Marion Kickett to her home country in York to film her describing her life, country, culture, spirituality, family, education and resilience. Marion is a Noongar leader from the Balardong language group, who is Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University in Perth.

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‘My stolen childhood, and a life to rebuild’: Sheila Humphries

In my last Healing post, I wrote about ‘Bringing them home’, the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. This report tells the stories of many of the so-called Stolen Generations. I also provided a link to the compelling Bringing Them Home documentary.

Some time ago, I came across this deeply moving YouTube film of Shelia Humphries giving her TEDxPerth talk. Sheila is such a wonderful speaker and her story had me in tears. It beggars belief what was done to Aboriginal people in Australia in the past.

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The Impact of Colonisation

The impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples has been similar in a number of countries, including Australia, Canada, America and New Zealand. In her book Trauma Trails: Recreating Songlines, Professor Judy Atkinson describes how the control of Indigenous peoples by the coloniser was facilitated by three main types of power abuse or violence—overt physical violence, covert structural violence, and psychosocial domination.

Overt physical violence: In Australia, the arrival of the British boats at Sydney Cove in 1788 set in motion a series of disasters that propagated trauma upon trauma upon trauma. These disasters impacted upon Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people who had lived on the continent for somewhere between 50 – 70,000 years.

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The Value of Deep Listening: The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation—Judy Atkinson

I was inspired into the field of trauma healing by a remarkable Aboriginal woman, Judy Atkinson.

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage. She lives in Goolmangar, New South Wales. Judy is Patron/Elder Advisor for We Al-li Programs, a remarkable healing initiative. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2019 for her services to the Indigenous community, to education and to mental health.

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Indigenous Trauma and Healing

images-1“We are like the tree standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt, but inside the tree, the sap is still flowing and under the ground, the roots are still strong. Like the tree, we have endured the flames and yet we still have the power to be reborn.” Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Senior Australian of the Year, 2021

This section of the website focuses on the healing of trauma and historical trauma, in particular in relation to Indigenous peoples.  I will write a series of articles, which will appear in the order they are written (oldest first), in an attempt to take the reader on a journey into this fascinating field.

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Ruby’s Healing Story

Marion Kickett, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University in Perth, shares the harrowing story of Ruby and describes how her early experiences impacted on her life. By forgiving people involved in these terrible events, Ruby started a healing process which led to her realising a dream. Sharing Culture. [9’42”]

The Stolen Generations

The history of forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families in Australia. National Museum of Australia. [18’00”]

Bringing them home: separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families

This resource is based on ‘Bringing them home’ , the report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, and on the history of forcible separation and other policies which have impacted on the lives of Indigenous Australians. Australian Human Rights Commission. [32’29”]

My stolen childhood, and a life to rebuild | Sheila Humphries | TEDxPerth

“This story is not a pretty one” begins Sheila Humphries who, as a child, was taken from her parents and placed in an orphanage by authorities who thought they knew best. One voice of the stolen Generation, Sheila, with many other indigenous Australian children, suffered cruelty and neglect that has shaped her as an adult, for good and for ill. The effects are still writ large on Sheila’s life and it’s a part of Australian history we must never forget. TEDx Talks. [14’50”]

Intergenerational Trauma Animation

If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from trauma, they may unknowingly pass it on to others through their behaviour. Their children may experience difficulties with attachment, disconnection from their extended families and culture and high levels of stress from family and community members who are dealing with the impacts of trauma. This can create developmental issues for children, who are particularly susceptible to distress at a young age. This creates a cycle of trauma, where the impact is passed from one generation to the next… Healing Foundation, Australia. [4’02’]

Shocking history impacts on health and wellbeing

For generations, Aboriginal people have been fearful of a particular area of the river in York, Western Australia. Marion Kickett, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University in Perth, reveals shocking events that have generated this fear and describes how such they still influence how some Aboriginal people behave in health settings. Sharing Culture. [9’04”]