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Study explores Aboriginal intergenerational trauma and youth well-being

Joseph Guenzler -

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has allocated over $3.6 million to the third phase of a study focusing on intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

On Friday, May 10, the NHMRC announced the allocation of $3,666,252 to the Aboriginal Families Study (Wave 3).

This initiative, rooted in Aboriginal culture and knowledge, delves into the social and emotional well-being of Indigenous youth.

Over the span of five years, the University of Adelaide, in collaboration with the South Australian Institute of Health and Medical Research (SAHMRI) and partners from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, will manage the grant.

Chief investigator and Wotjobaluk woman, Karen Glover said this funding will facilitate the creation of a novel assessment tool for measuring social and emotional well-being.

"It will provide evidence to inform co-design and implementation of responses to intergenerational and complex trauma spanning health, education and social care sectors, including strategies to promote resilience, healing and recovery for young people and their mothers and other primary caregivers," Ms Glover said.

"This project aims to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people's social and emotional wellbeing and translate knowledge into action across primary health care, mental health, housing, education and social care sectors to benefit them and their families."

The Aboriginal Families Study, comprising 344 Aboriginal children and their mothers residing in urban, regional, and remote areas of South Australia, constitutes a prospective mother and child cohort investigation.

It was established following identified gaps in existing evidence to shape health policies and services.

Prior to its inception, extensive consultations with Aboriginal communities and services across South Australia were conducted.

Initial engagement with families occurred during the year following the birth of the children, with subsequent reconnection for Wave 2 during the early primary school years (ages 5 to 9).

The primary focus of the first two waves was on exploring the social determinants influencing the physical and mental health of women and children.

These phases highlighted disparities in access to pregnancy, postnatal, and primary care services.

Additionally, they revealed evidence suggesting that Aboriginal-led services in South Australia have enhanced women's access to and experiences with antenatal care.

"We will develop a new co-designed, multi-dimensional measure of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people's social and emotional wellbeing spanning the seven domains of body, mind and emotions, family and kinship, community, culture, Country and spirituality," Ms Glover said.

"We will also conduct yarning circles and a further wave of survey data collection with young people (aged 14 to 16) and their mothers/primary caregivers to generate new knowledge about the potential for social and emotional wellbeing to buffer the impacts of social, political and historical determinants of mental health, health behaviours, educational and social pathways."

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