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Healing the past by nurturing the future: Strengthening foundations for supporting Indigenous parents who have experienced complex childhood trauma

This community-based participatory action research project aims to develop strong foundations for a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded project to co-design screening and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma.

These foundations will be established by:

  1. Mapping relevant perinatal and psychosocial support services and key stakeholders who may be interested in being involved in co-designing screening and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma
  2. Facilitating two workshops with key stakeholders to: discuss scoping review findings; co-design systematic review; develop research governance, emotional and cultural safety protocols; co-design research with vulnerable families; and plan next stages of research (development of screening and support strategies)
  3. Conducting a mixed methods systematic review of theoretical and empirical evidence of factors which mediate parental healing and/or transmission of intergenerational trauma
  4. Pre-testing and conducting innovative engaging research with key community groups to understand and illustrate parents’ experiences of complex trauma.

This project is conducted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – with active involvement in all stages of the research, including funding submissions, governance, project leadership, data collection, analysis and dissemination. This collaborative research involves investigators from 12 institutions, including La Trobe University, the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, We-Alli Pty Ltd, Orygen, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Flinders University, James Cook University and Monash University. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders, service providers, policy makers and families will be invited to be involved in the co-design process.

The expected benefits from this project include:

  • identification of all relevant services/key stakeholders involved in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents with complex trauma across three project jurisdictions (Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria)
  • meaningful engagement with relevant services and key stakeholders who wish to be involved in developing strategies to identify and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents during the perinatal period who have experienced complex trauma themselves to form a ‘community of practice’
  • development and pre-testing of creative and other resources to understand the experiences of vulnerable parents
  • development of protocols to create a culturally and emotionally safe research environment for staff and parents who have experienced complex trauma
  • publication of accessible (free) high quality evidence to support development of evidence-based strategies to identify and support parents who have experienced childhood trauma, and identify evidence gaps
  • capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers at several levels and in a wide range of skills
  • establishment of strong foundations for an NHMRC funded project (1141593). Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future: Learning how to identify and support Indigenous parents who have experienced complex childhood trauma. Chamberlain C, Gee G, Brown S, Arabena K, Atkinson J, Nicholson J, Gartland D, Herrman H, Glover K, Clark Y. 1/1/2018-31/12/2021.

Investigators: C. Chamberlain, G. Gee, S. Brown, K. Arabena, J. Atkinson, J. Nicholson, D. Gartland, H. Herrman, K. Glover, Y. Clark, S. Campbell, F Mensah, C. Atkinson, S. Andrews, S. Brennan, H. McLachlan, T. Hirvovenon.

For further information please see the Healing the past by nurturing the future project website https://www.latrobe.edu.au/jlc/research/healing-the-past.

Artwork by Shawana Marie Andrews

Created: 03 January 2018 - Updated: 02 January 2019