The Healing Foundation releases ground-breaking reports during National Press Club address

Posted 24th June 2021 in General Sector update

On 2 June 2021, CEO of the Healing Foundation, Fiona Cornforth announced the release of the Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act report during a National Press Club address. 

The Make Healing Happen report considers the impact of forced removal on Stolen Generations descendants and aims to achieve lasting intergenerational healing for Stolen Generations survivors. It also highlights recommendations from the 1997 Bringing Them Home report.

In her Press Club address, Ms Cornforth explained: “We know descendants of Stolen Generations survivors experience significantly poorer wellbeing when compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Traumatic childhood experiences such as those of Stolen Generations survivors may affect following generations through biological changes in stress responses; and by undermining survivors’ ability to function from a place of strength, maximising the broadest range of opportunity and possibilities. Intergenerational trauma is real, and we have the evidence in support of testimonies.”

The Make Healing Happen report presents demographic data about how and where Stolen Generations survivors and their families live, and calls on all Australian governments to work together to deliver:

  • Nationally consistent, fair, and equitable redress for Stolen Generations survivors, their families and descendants
  • Tailored and targeted trauma-aware and healing-informed services to meet the unique aged care, health, mental health, disability, and housing needs of significantly growing numbers of ageing Stolen Generations survivors
  • Nationally consistent access to historical and contemporary records (including births, deaths, marriages) for Stolen Generations survivors and their families
  • A national Intergenerational Healing Strategy to address intergenerational trauma with a framework that encompasses truth-telling, healing through culture; self-determination; and community-led services and programs
  • A national accountability framework to monitor and report progress towards achieving better outcomes; including reporting to parliament
  • A National Centre for Healing, incorporating a national memorial for Stolen Generations on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country in Canberra
  • An end to racism.

Ms Cornforth also raised the point that healing is about restoring wellbeing, a strength of spirit, family connections, and lore, custom, and protocols that have made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures the oldest living cultures on earth.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19 report was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), commissioned by the Healing Foundation and launched during the same Press Club address. 

Ms Cornforth explained that findings of the AIHW analyses provide an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors, as well as the extent and complexity of their needs today and as they grow older. She pointed out: “One of the more significant findings is that all Stolen Generations survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care.”

Ms Fiona Cornforth, The Healing Foundation

“The analyses provide clear evidence that Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants carry higher levels of disadvantage across life outcomes when compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There is a ‘gap within the gap’.”

The AIHW estimate the number of Stolen Generations survivors has more than doubled from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19. Ms Cornforth explained that this dramatic increase points to the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments, especially within health, mental health, aged care, disability, welfare and wellbeing. 

The report highlights that when compared with the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over (on an age-standardised basis), Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are:

  • Three times as likely to be living with a severe disability
  • Seven times as likely to have poor mental health
  • Six times as likely to have kidney disease
  • One time as likely to have diabetes
  • Seven times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

Together, these reports represent the unmet and growing needs in health, aged care, education, social justice, and equity for survivors and their families.