Stolen generation face 'gap within a gap'

·2-min read

Urgent federal and state government action is needed to address the health and socio-economic "gap within a gap" experienced by stolen generation survivors.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report released on Wednesday found survivors over 50 face worse life outcomes than their Indigenous people counterparts.

The study estimates there are more than 27,000 survivors in the age group as of 2018-19, almost double the figure from four years earlier.

Compared to other Indigenous people over 50, survivors are more likely to be living with ill health and other stressors. They are also 1.4 times more likely to have poor mental health.

Compared to non-Indigenous Australians, they are six times more likely to live in an overcrowded house and four times more likely to not own their home.

They are more likely to suffer from a range of long-term health conditions, such as kidney disease (4.6 times), diabetes (3.1), lung disease (three) and heart disease (2.7).

The Healing Foundation says there is clear evidence survivors carry higher levels of disadvantage across their life outcomes and there is urgent need for governments to assist the healing process.

"One of the more significant findings is that all stolen generation survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care," CEO Fiona Cornforth said.

"We have a unique opportunity with the current reforms in the aged care sector to get care systems right for the special health, cultural, and healing needs of stolen generations survivors.

"There is a 'gap within the gap'."

In a separate report, the Healing Foundation has put forward several recommendations it says will fulfil the aspirations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report.

Top priorities include a survivor and government co-designed redress scheme for survivors and for government investment in healing programs focused on counselling and cultural reconnection.

More than one-third of adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are descended from older generations who were forcibly removed, the AIHW report noted.

This equates to 142,200 descendants nationally in 2018-19, up from 114,800 in 2014-15.

"The evidence is compelling. Removal is the origin of trauma for too many of our peoples. Yet it is simply not considered or accounted for in policy, in funding decisions, or service delivery," Ms Cornforth said.

"Intergenerational trauma can end with intergenerational healing."

The AIHW estimates the number of survivors has more than doubled from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19.

AIHW spokesman Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman said it is likely that over time Indigenous people who were removed from their families as children are becoming more willing to report their experiences.

The AIHW report was based on a series of surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.