Weston thinks the trauma caused by racist policies such as the forced removal of children is the root cause of the fact that Indigenous Australians, on average, die about ten years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians. Studies of the effects of childhood trauma in the United States show that it can increase the risk of substance misuse and mental and physical ill-health, and can limit employment opportunities.
But Weston says government initiatives are not adequately addressing trauma, and this is why, despite numerous policies over the past ten years, the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians has yet to improve significantly. The government acknowledges that the country is not on track to meet its goal of closing the life-expectancy gap by Some researchers are also worried that the trauma is being repeated today, in Indigenous children who are being removed from their families under state child-welfare laws.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represented 5.
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Walter says it is a contradiction for governments to say that they want to improve Indigenous life expectancy when Indigenous children are still being placed in out-of-home care. Removing children from their communities is contributing to these gaps, she says. Although government policies state that Indigenous children should be placed with their extended family or families in their community before non-Indigenous carers, this isn't always possible.
Although child-protection systems are the responsibility of states and territories, Wyatt says, the national government is working to address the underlying factors that contribute to children being placed in out-of-home care, including intergenerational trauma.
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