The impact of intergenerational trauma in remote Australian Indigenous communities is alarming. Over the past 13 years, I have witnessed the legacy of intergenerational trauma in remote Aboriginal communities. I have also seen the direct, positive effects of rhythm and creative projects on the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous families. When such programs are defunded and abandoned, the repercussions ripple out, drastically impeding the movement toward healthier community living.
The transformational impact of programs addressing intergenerational trauma is dependent on sustained, committed funding. Current funding of these important social programs is subject to frequent political change, resulting in profound instability in Indigenous communities.
The effects of trauma on the neurobiology of Indigenous youth is well understood. The Australian government and national peak bodies such as the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) recognise methods of recovery from a neuroscientific perspective in well documented academic papers such as Trauma-informed services and trauma-specific care for Indigenous Australian children, which references Dr Bruce Perry’s research into childhood trauma and offers a worthy theoretical framework for optimising child neurodevelopment. SNAICC offer substantial findings in their publication Healing in Practice.
Despite this research, the Australian government is offering little or no funding to support active therapeutic programs which promote post-traumatic growth in Indigenous communities. The decision to underfund youth services surely defies reality in a nation which has the highest youth suicide in the world and where detention rates of Aboriginal youth, at 26 times the rates of other children, are the main focus of the recent visit of the Amnesty International’s Secretary General. It also defies the oft stated mantra of the Abbott Government regarding Indigenous affairs: “Getting children to school, adults to work and building safer communities.”
Trauma needs to be addressed on a physical level over a sustained period of time to assist the brain in new growth and opportunities to heal. Trauma has caused and continues to cause, social and emotional issues that are alarmingly detrimental to remote Indigenous communities.The legacy of dysfunction, disease, pain and sorrow, for a culture that lived wisely, powerfully, and autonomously for 60,000 years or more before invasion, theft of land, massacres, dispossession, assimilation, intervention, stolen children and state-imposed poverty, is so deeply shameful through my eyes.
What legacy do we want to leave? The majority of non-Indigenous Australians live in relative wealth (or at least comfort) at the ongoing expense of the health and wealth of the First Nation peoples. Can we make a gesture as individuals and take some responsibility for the poor and profoundly destructive decisions made by past and present governments? Can this generation make a powerful statement about the world we would like to see, about the future we would like to create?
If we could take initiative and make change what would it look like? We are Ba-Boom! For the past 10 years we have been traveling to remote communities, when funding permits, to deliver rhythm and music education through school programs and holiday programs. We integrate art, sport, and nutrition programs, all aimed at alleviating the effects of trauma on these communities, with special focus on youth.
We propose to invite a million Australians and or international citizens to help us to initiate autonomy from government funding to address this very serious issue over a sustained period of time. The offering of $10 for 10 years (a glass of wine at a bar!) by a million people would help fund many targeted, trauma-informed programs. Through accessing long term and current relationships with remote Indigenous communities and thorough cultural consultancy with elders and youth alike, we propose to employ and train facilitators (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous), to engage young Indigenous people in a variety of well structured and targeted activities supporting them to live vibrantly and confidently on their ancestral lands, connected to their families and historical culture.
Ongoing partnerships play an essential role. Negotiated partnerships with local Indigenous organisations and councils, NGO’S, schools and other concerned parties are vital to the ongoing success and expansion of the program.
Funding support by a collective of concerned and informed individuals would mobilise professional co-ordinators and facilitators of music, rhythm, art, sport, nutrition, dance, narrative therapy, sexual and mental health and life skills programs. It will purchase transport (4WD buses), trailers, instruments, equipment (recording, multi-media, camping, art), food, cooking equipment, clothing, tools, satellite phones, first aid equipment, fuel. It would assist and support elders to create safe spaces by taking youth and their families out of communities and back onto ancestral lands (“out to Country”), for the focused teaching of Law and Culture and the wise teachings and story telling from Elders. It would also assist with tours both state and interstate, as an opportunity for these talented youth to be seen, affirmed and acknowledged for their skills.
Above all, collective funding would assist in building the capacity, empowerment, mental and physical health and wellbeing, self determination, self esteem, a sense of belonging, and feelings of worth and validation for Indigenous youth in Australia.
Next year we will launch a fundraising campaign. We have begun inviting a well informed and passionate team of individuals to assist us in designing and delivering such an ambitious campaign and program.
Stay tuned. We will continue to publish on our site, and we invite you to support us by sharing what you have learned. Feel free to contact us directly or join our mailing list and we’ll let you know when we launch our campaign.
Donations are gratefully received. If you feel inclined, please help us to get underway by donating what you can.
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Mail orders and cheques for Ba-Boom! are gratefully received at PO Box 33, Leigh Creek, South Australia, 5731
Thank you ~
Shon and Svet