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Childhood Separation & Trauma: The Stolen Generation Effect on Kids Brains & Adult Outcomes Tony Broe & the Koori Growing Old Well Study (KGOWS) Team with.

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Presentation on theme: "Childhood Separation & Trauma: The Stolen Generation Effect on Kids Brains & Adult Outcomes Tony Broe & the Koori Growing Old Well Study (KGOWS) Team with."— Presentation transcript:

1 Childhood Separation & Trauma: The Stolen Generation Effect on Kids Brains & Adult Outcomes Tony Broe & the Koori Growing Old Well Study (KGOWS) Team with Emily Hindman, Sue Hoskins, Lea Williams, Holly Mack, Gail Daylight Aboriginal Artist LeAnne Hunter


3 From 1788 - British governors, settlers, police, soldiers - saw Australia as territory open to take over; as ‘terra nullius’; unoccupied. The Aboriginal people - who had successfully managed the “Biggest Estate on Earth” for 9000+ years – were removed from their family lands & nations by the invaders With loss of their land Aboriginal people lost their long term job – their purpose-in-life, connections to culture, spirit Frontier wars, brutal fringe camps & ‘missions’, new diseases (measles, flu, small pox) decimated Aboriginal numbers And from the early 1900s Aboriginal people had their children removed - with the claim “Aborigines were a dying race” Background Aboriginal Australians - 1788 to 1960s

4 However: From the 1960s - infant mortality has steadily fallen with lots more Aboriginal kids surviving to adult life From the 2000s - adult life-span has been rising & fertility is starting to fall – with smaller families The Australian Aboriginal population is – Growing rapidly: with a large young population (0-24 years) – Ageing rapidly: led by the ‘young old’ – people 45-64 years – But showing high dementia rates - 3 times non-Indigenous – & Earlier onset of dementia than non-Indigenous population Background Aboriginal Health and Ageing – 1960s to 2014

5 1.Access to basic human rights? Citizenship ’67; Freedom Rides 60s; Self determination ’70s; Racial Discrimination Act 1975; Full citizenship Rights only in 1983 2.Some Recognition of prior ownership of the Land? Land Rights 1970s on; Redfern Speech ’92; Native Title - Mabo ’92; Wik ’96; Apology 2008 - But Racially discriminatory Wik Amendments (UN) ’98; no Treaty or Recognition in the Constitution are barriers to full reconciliation 3.Improved housing health care & health services? – In NT and Australia wide - from the ’90s (N.T. - Thomas et al 2006; AIHW) What improved Aboriginal Health and Ageing? Over the past 50 years

6 Brain Growth opportunities? Removal of children produces a cascade of lost opportunities from simple lack of love & stimulus essential to grow brains; to neglect, abuse, damage to brains; to loss of opportunity to learn to parent the next generation – all tickets to enter the Criminal Justice System Criminal Justice System - Aboriginal kids are 22 times more likely to enter the CJS – another form of ‘removal’ Enhanced Early Childhood? Aboriginal kids don’t get equal kindergarten, pre-school, & enriched early life, opportunities Education & Employment – Pre-1960s Aboriginal schooling was an exercise in denial & discrimination. It now just lags behind non-Indigenous – as does Aboriginal employment What has not improved? Over the past 50 years

7 Between 2000 and 2005 at La Perouse, with Gail Daylight & the Aboriginal Health Link Advisory Group: We set up - a Chronic & Complex Care Program and a Vascular Health Program & got recurrent funding We re-opened the 2-room Arrunga Health Clinic; Planned & opened in 2005 a 10-room La Perouse Aboriginal Community Health Centre; Set up La Perouse Clinic Services in Child Health, Mother & Baby Health, ENT, Mental Health, D&A and Aged Care – With GP Primary Care provided by AMS Redfern. By 2005 We recognised that - to improve ageing across the life course we had to tackle Child development and Child health – and find why brains don’t grow well Background to Koori Growing Old Well Study Services precede Research

8 Koori Growing Old Well Study 2008 - 2012 We set out to find answers to these Questions 1.Are dementia rates as high in Urban Aboriginal people as our colleagues had found in the Remote Kimberley (KICA) Study? - i.e., 3 x non-Indigenous? 2.We asked - Is Brain and Mind Growth - from childhood onward an important factor in – Having a healthy adult life – Escaping poverty and getting jobs – Delaying adult diseases – heart, kidney, diabetes, injury etc – Delaying memory loss and dementia

9 Mid North Coast NSW: Coffs Harbour – Galambila Aboriginal Medical Service Kempsey - Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service and Booroongen Djugun Aged Care Nambucca - Daarimba Maarra Aboriginal Health Centre Metropolitan Sydney: La Perouse (Randwick Botany) - Aboriginal Land Council and Aboriginal Community Health Centre Advisory Committee; Campbelltown – Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service KGOWS: Build Community relationships; Engage partners; Request access to lists; Recruit participants

10 Coffs Harbour Nambucca Kempsey Randwick/Botany Campbelltown KOORI GROWING OLD WELL STUDY 5 URBAN/REGIONAL STUDY SITES 58% 42%

11 KGOWS & KICA Studies 2005 - 2012 Dementia rates are high in Aboriginal people Dementia Prevalence by Age RESULTS:

12 TYPES of DEMENTIA – Urban Aboriginal People RESULTS:

13 KGOWS – Stolen Generation (n = 336) Family Separation N (%) Participant Removed33 (10%) Relatives taken away142 (44%) Children taken away5 (2%) Siblings taken away40 (13%) Parents taken away39 (12%) RESULTS:

14 What happens in childhood grows the mind & brain to deal with adult life & ageing We believe positive child experiences grow minds & brains effectively for adult life & ageing And negative experiences grow brains, but in the wrong way to deal with adult life; to grow old well Do early life experiences result in mid-life health risks and premature brain ageing?

15 We – mothers, fathers, grandparents, schools, culture, communities – working with the genes - grow our children’s minds & brains from infancy to adulthood What Grows healthy Brains & Minds?

16 – Consistent and good parenting – not Separated as a child from family as happened for the Stolen Generation – Having Parents who themselves learnt to parent and were not brought up in institutions etc – Low rates of childhood trauma – Good childhood education – Ongoing adult education – Brain stimulating jobs – Life-long nurturing and growth of your brain What Grows healthy Brains & Minds?

17 Q: How does the Mind-Brain grow? In practical terms our Minds and Brains work together and grow - with the body - as a network We fill our minds with experiences and grow our brains to hold them as memories & guideposts Mind-brain growth is a life-long process, however the richest growth occurs during parenting and education - with lack of trauma & stress - in infancy and childhood and up to late adolescence

18 Q: How does the Mind-Brain Grow? We grow it: mothers families schools - and our Genes A thin strip of ‘thinking’ Cortex Masses of ‘gyri’ = Complex Cortex MRI Brain Scan Normal Neonate MRI Brain Scan Normal Adult

19 Q: When does the Mind-Brain Grow? All our lives - but most growth in Early Years From: Peña-Melian (2000). Human Neurodevelopment 15: 99-112. 1 year 7 years Adult years Brain weight 25 years

20 Good Parenting/Grandparenting/Family Setting consistent boundaries Access to formal education Informal learning, reading, I.T. Supportive, secure, safe & loving family What are the positive factors in Early Life for mind/brain growth?

21 Separated from family/Stolen gen/Justice System Lack of skills for parenting Giving kids inconsistent boundaries Discrimination Adverse Childhood Events/Child Trauma – Exposure to Violence towards women – Childhood Trauma, Violence & Abuse – Childhood exposure to Alcohol/Drug abuse and to Mental Illness – Childhood exposure/entry to Criminal Justice system What are the negative factors in early life for mind/brain growth?

22 Q: What is the Stolen Generation effect? Loss of the richest opportunities – those given by a loving family - at the crucial time for mind/brain growth - infancy and childhood up to adolescence Loss of the opportunity to learn to be a parent and for gaining an education - often with major physical and emotional trauma, stress and more negative experiences than growing up in your own family Developing resilience may overcome some of these disadvantages

23 Anxiety & Depression Poor Diet, Obesity Smoking - Alcohol – Drug use High Blood Pressure Social isolation Brain Injury Family Violence & Trauma These are Known causes of mid-life death & disability and are also Known risk factors for later life brain decline and dementia Q: How can Early Life Stress affect adults? Child Stress & Removal cause

24 Good jobs and income Adult education, learning, reading, Using the Net, Wii, Google, Web, Games Bringing them Home - programs Social connections Exercise, fitness, wt. loss Low BP and cholesterol No cigs & Moderate alcohol Q: What grows Brains & Minds in mid-life and later life

25 NHMRC and AHMRC Department of Health and Ageing Ageing Disability & Home Care NSW Our Aboriginal communities and partners (La Perouse Land Council, Tharawal AMS, Durri AMS, Booroongen Djugun, Galambila AMS, Daarimba Maarra AHC, local Elders Groups and Aboriginal Guidance Groups) Our Research team Acknowledgements

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