A new report from the Healing Foundation is highlighting the call for a national Stolen Generations redress scheme as new research shows their significant disadvantage and more survivors come forward. 

Released on Wednesday, Make Healing Happen provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the extent of their needs now, and as they grow older.

The Healing Foundation chief executive Fiona Cornforth said that there is a “gap within the gap” and a need for a national intergenerational healing strategy. 

“Today … I turn your attention to the case for long-overdue healing. A case for healing this nation, of many nations, which begins with Stolen Generation survivors and their families,” Cornforth said on Wednesday as she launched the report at the National Press Club in Canberra.

“We make a case for ending cycles of trauma experiences; a case for intergenerational healing.”

The report used analysis from two decades of testimony from Stolen Generations survivors and their families. A key finding from this was that survivors and their descendants carry higher levels of disadvantage across life outcomes compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are already carrying disadvantage in comparison to non-First Nations peoples.

“This cohort of our population are growing older, and many live with disabilities and complex health problems, with mostly systemic barriers to accessing services,” Cornforth said. 

“Stolen Generations are worried about the future of their families … still.”

Analysis undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that, in comparison to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the same age, Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are 1.8 times more likely to not own a home and 1.5 times as likely to have Government payments as their main source of income.

The AIHW report also shows survivors are more than 4.5 times as likely to have kidney disease, over three times as likely to have diabetes and 2.7 times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

The AIHW estimates that in 2018–19 there were an estimated 33,600 Stolen Generations survivors — including 27,200 aged 50 and over.

Cornforth said this “gap within the gap” is significant and requires targeted attention, and that there are practical, achievable and affordable recommendations stemming from the evidence.

There were four recommendations made including: 

  • A redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants
  • Government-resourced programs and policies across Australia co-designed with Stolen Generations survivors to holistically address specific needs, with priority placed on aged care, disability, health, and housing
  • Government-resourced and implemented national intergenerational healing strategy for addressing intergenerational trauma
  • A national accountability framework to monitor and report progress towards achieving better outcomes for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants.

“These recommendations, if adopted completely, will fulfil the aspirations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report,” Cornforth said.

“Healing will restore dignity for those who have suffered and will ease a burden they had no say in having to carry.

“Today is Day One of our Make Healing Happen initiative. Now is the time to make healing happen. It is long overdue.”

By Teisha Cloos