Survivors of the Stolen Generations aged over 50 have poorer health and socioeconomic demographics than other Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians of the same age, according to a new report.
The report, completed by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW), draws on data from a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2018 and 2019. This survey involved ABS representatives interviewing First Nations Australians in person, with approximately 33% of the total Indigenous Australian population interviewed.
Data on members of the Stolen Generations (defined in the study as Indigenous people born before 1972 who were removed from their families) were compared to data on Indigenous Australians of the same age who were not removed from their families. The researchers also drew comparisons from non-Indigenous Australians who participated in the 2017–2018 National Health Survey.
“In 2018–19, there were an estimated 33,600 Stolen Generations survivors, including 27,200 aged 50 and over,” says Fadwa Al-Yaman, a spokesperson for the AIHW.
“The 27,200 people aged 50 years and over comprised 1 in 5 (21%) of Indigenous Australians in that age group.”
Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over faced worse health outcomes than Indigenous Australians not removed from their families. Survivors were 1.4 times as likely to have a severe or profound disability and 1.4 times as likely to have poor mental health than their non-removed counterparts. They were also 1.7 times as likely to experience discrimination and 1.5 times as likely to be a victim of actual or threatened harm.
Compared to non-Indigenous Australians, survivors were 3 times as likely to have a severe or profound disability, 2.7 times as likely to have poor mental health, and 2.2 times as likely to have government payments as their main income source.
The report found socioeconomic discrepancies as well, with nearly two-thirds (66%) of Stolen Generations survivors over 50 not owning a home, 71% relying on government payments as the main source of income, 63% without access to emergency funds and 43% having had days without money for basic living expenses in the past year.
Fiona Cornforth, CEO of the Healing Foundation (which commissioned the report), says that this is important information on the ‘gap within the gap’ – the health disparity between Stolen Generations survivors and other Indigenous Australians.
“The AIHW report demonstrates the extent to which this ‘extra’ gap stems from removal,” says Cornforth.
“This data is hugely beneficial as we work towards healing for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants.” The results of this report are broadly consistent with the results of previous surveys.
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
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