Healing Section of Recovery Stories

In more recent years, my work has in large part been focused around the healing of trauma. I set up the educational initiative Sharing Culture in 2014, which focused on the healing of intergenerational trauma amongst Indigenous peoples. [The website is still live, but I have not updated my blog for some time.]

Late in 2018, I launched a storytelling, education and healing online resource, The Carrolup Story, with Social Anthropologist John Stanton and our webmaster Ash Whitney (he built the Recovery Stories website as well). I published the eBook Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe in June 2020.

This book, along with the website, plunges us into a world where traumatised Aboriginal children of Western Australia show resilience in the face of great adversity. Their achievements challenge the very foundation of a government’s racist and dehumanising policies. Their beautiful landscape art inspires four generations of artists… and takes a 50-year journey, encircling the world before returning home.

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Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational trauma—sometimes called transgenerational or historical trauma—amongst Indigenous peoples is the trauma that has arisen as a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture.

As it was not addressed at the time, this trauma (and associated grief) have been passed down unwittingly through the generations by peoples’ behaviours and thought patterns.

Today, this trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements.

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12 Principles of Indigenous Healing

When I first developed the educational healing resource Sharing Culture, I did a great deal of reading about the healing of trauma and historical trauma. I summarised what I considered to be 12 principles of healing, which are relevant to Aboriginal people here in Australia and other Indigenous peoples around the world.  I have decided to make an article on these principles the first  in our educational journey into Indigenous trauma and healing.

1. The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognised and respected
Recognition of, and respect for, the Human Rights of Indigenous peoples is fundamental to improving their health and wellbeing. Society must ensure that Indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

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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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Don Coyhis: 2009 Purpose Prize Winner

Don Coyhis developed the grassroots Wellbriety Movement that provides culturally based healing for Indigenous people. The mission of The Wellbriety Movement is to disseminate culturally based principles, values, and teachings to support healthy community development and servant leadership, and to support healing from alcohol, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and intergenerational trauma. Encore.org. [3’12”]

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’]

Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 1)

3702998“Indigenous people possess a gift. This is a gift of healing, strong relationships and a deep connection to land, from a culture that has flourished over many thousands of years.” David Clark and Michael Liu

1. Nature of the Problems
As a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture and land, Indigenous people of Australia (and other countries) have suffered a trauma that has been passed unwittingly down through the generations.

The consequences of this historical, or intergenerational, trauma include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and abuse, self-harm and suicide.

Today, the impact of historical trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, experiences of racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements. It is exacerbated by closing down of remote Indigenous communities, destruction of Indigenous sacred sites, and turning over of Indigenous land to the mining industry.  

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Classic Blog: ‘Family Stories, Secrets and Survival’ by Dr. Judith Landau

This talk will provide you with insights into intergenerational trauma and how addiction arises as a coping response. It will show you a way forward to recovery and healing, through Story. Understanding the past can help us deal with the present and help create a better future.

Judith, thank you for this wonderful talk! Here is the Youtube intro:

‘Dr. Judith Landau tells the story of trauma and recovery through generations and gives clues along the way for healthier families.

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Family Stories, Secrets and Survival: Dr. Judith Landau at TEDxVailWomen

I can strongly recommend this extraordinary talk from Dr Judith Landau. It’s one of my favourites, found only this morning. Thank you BDawg!

This talk will provide you with insights into intergenerational trauma and how addiction arises as a coping response. It will show you a way forward to recovery and healing, through Story. Understanding the past can help us deal with the present and help create a better future.

Judith, thank you for this wonderful talk! Here is the Youtube intro:

‘Dr. Judith Landau tells the story of trauma and recovery through generations and gives clues along the way for healthier families.

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‘Intergenerational Trauma & Healing, Parts 1-3’ by Joe Solanto

Yesterday, I posted a blog from Gabor Maté entitled Our Strange Indifference To Aboriginal Addiction. I highlighted the following about society’s – it’s not just Canada – response to the problems of addiction amongst Aboriginal people.

‘We seem to comfort ourselves with the belief that the endemic drug addiction and alcoholism are unfortunate realities for which we, as a society, bear no responsibility. From both scientific and historical perspectives, such a view is distorted and self-serving.’ Gabor Maté

I’ve heard many non-Aboriginal Australian people say in relation to Aboriginal people: “Why don’t they just get over it?” (Yeh, like non-Aboriginal people just get over diabetes, cancer or rape)

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