de Lissa Oration 2019 - The Sector
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de Lissa Oration 2019

October 17, 2019 - October 17, 2019

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University of South Australia Magill Campus Saint Bernards Road Amy Wheaton Building H1-44 Magill, SA 5072

ACEs too high. Aboriginal Children and Trauma


Presented by Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson AM


Some Aboriginal children, by their behaviour, are telling us all is not right in their world. Do we understand Symptom as History, and in families so affected, children’s behaviour as a language that is a cry for help? Are we complicit or in denial? Or are we ready to do some hard and painful work? When the lives of Aboriginal children matter, people will start to acknowledge that Aboriginal children have human rights, too.


When systems are unable to work together to ensure all children receive basic essential services, responsive to complex developmental trauma diagnosis, we also acknowledge that the rights of the child under the United Nations determination on such rights is seriously compromised in Australia. Yet, when Indigenous therapeutic educational programs, which were trauma-specific in their application, were built into a school curriculum, the outcomes were increasingly positive, with some confronting results.


This work did not completely take away the trauma in the children’s lives, however. In coming to understand the lack of skills and commitment to work with such children across government and NGO service systems, we have documented gross violations of child rights. Hence, making systems work on behalf of Aboriginal Children will require us to all work together to transform the worlds in which we live, for all our children.


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