The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) vehemently rejects recent claims made by Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price that there are no ongoing negative impacts of colonisation.
VACCHO is deeply disappointed by the comments of the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians and co-leader of the No campaign, made during her speech at the National Press Club last Thursday, where she dismissed the intergenerational trauma that continues to impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to this day.
VACCHO firmly maintains that the ongoing negative impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are undeniable and deeply rooted in our country’s colonial history.
The gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians remains a well-documented and stark reality. This gap encompasses various aspects of life, including health, education, justice, and socioeconomic status. Poorer health outcomes and compounding trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are directly linked to government policies implemented and societal stigimatisation, marginalisation and discrimination that developed following colonisation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to face higher rates of suicide, diabetes, and heart disease which highlights the enduring impact of colonisation on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country.
VACCHO stands by numerous peer-reviewed studies and evidence-based reports that confirm the enduring harmful impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In a 2022 report titled ‘Determinants of health for Indigenous Australians’, the federal government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare stated that “colonisation has had a devastating impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culture.”
The report also emphasised that these factors have a “fundamental impact on the disadvantage and poor physical and mental health of Indigenous peoples worldwide through social systems that maintain disparities.“
The loss of language and cultural displacement due to colonisation is a painful and ongoing consequence. Many Aboriginal communities are actively engaged in decolonising systems, including the health system, to create more culturally safe and responsive ways of life that embed Aboriginal self-determination at their core.
Proud Aboriginal woman and VACCHO Clinical Advisor, Psychologist, Karen McAlear says she is deeply concerned about the impact Senator Price’s statements will have on Community.
“The comments made by Senator Price are ill-informed and insulting,” says Ms McAlear.
“The intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is real and ongoing. We see it every day through the work we do at the Balit Durn Durn Centre and throughout my years of practice with Aboriginal communities.”
VACCHO’s Balit Durn Durn Centre actively works to decolonise such systems so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can heal from the negative impacts of past government policies, historical oppression, cultural displacement and the numerous forms of racism that impact every aspect of health and wellbeing today.
VACCHO suggests that Senator Price takes the time to actively listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ diverse experiences of the ongoing impacts of colonisation, trauma and intergenerational trauma and reconsiders on her position on the matter.
Colonisation is still costing Aboriginal people, a Voice would help politicians understand this – by Amy Rust
Proud Kokatha woman and Head of Engagement and Communications at the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, Amy Rust, clearly articulates the lived experiences that the impacts of colonisation has had and continues to have on her family and herself personally.