27 January 2015 | General Interest
Harvard Medical School has collaborated with the University of Wollongong to develop an innovative training program that identifies the role trauma plays in the lives of Indigenous Australians.
The program is aimed at professionals in the health, social services, education, and justice sectors to help recognise and understand the long-term effects of colonisation and its compound trauma on Indigenous communities.
Dr Richard Mollica, Harvard Professor of Psychiatry and a leading international expert on trauma, became interested in developing a tailored program after witnessing first-hand the alarming impact of drug and domestic abuse in Indigenous areas.
Dr Mollica contacted several institutions across the country before getting in touch with Debra Hocking at the University of Wollongong. A specialist in the field of Aboriginal health, Ms Hocking will run and co-ordinate the Indigenous trauma recovery program, which is the first of its kind in Australia.
Ms Hocking met with Indigenous health experts in January to finalise the specialised Australian version of the program. The curriculum has been developed to be confronting, and will cover theory surrounding generational trauma as a result of colonisation — loss of land, loss of identity, removal from family.
The course will initially be offered through the University of Wollongong as a stand-alone program (a six-month online course or two-week residential intensive) before being included in the Master of Indigenous Health in 2016.
SNAICC trauma training project with the Healing Foundation
SNAICC has also been investigating the area of trauma and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with support and funding from the Healing Foundation. This has involved a literature review, staff training through the Australian Childhood Foundation, and development of a two-day training program called Recognising and Responding to Trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families and Children.
Pilot programs were successfully delivered in late 2014 at two sites, Lismore (New South Wales) and Ballarat (Victoria) in conjunction with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). These programs were very well received and were over-subscribed. SNAICC is now in the process of reviewing the materials and participant feedback in order to finalise our two-day program for national rollout later this year.
The program is designed to give workers a solid understanding of the theoretical basis of trauma informed work and practice issues when working directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The SNAICC Carers website also has some useful information and links to inform carers about the nature of trauma. Details of future training will be posted on the main SNAICC website under Training when it becomes available.