A culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Australia, developed during COVID-19


Simon Graham, Ilias Kamitsis, Michelle Kennedy, Christina Heris, Tess Bright, Shannon K Bennetts, Kimberley A Jones, Renee Fiolet, Janine Mohamed, Caroline Atkinson, Catherine Chamberlain

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022, 19(23), 15626. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192315626


The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic impacted peoples’ livelihoods and mental wellbeing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia continue to experience intergenerational trauma associated with colonization and may experience trauma-related distress in response to government responses to public health emergencies. We aimed to develop a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led study involved: (i) a review of trauma-informed public health emergency responses to develop a draft framework (ii) interviews with 110 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents about how COVID-19 impacted their lives, and (iii) a workshop with 36 stakeholders about pandemic experiences using framework analysis to refine a culturally responsive trauma-informed framework. The framework included: an overarching philosophy (cultural humility, safety and responsiveness); key enablers (local leadership and Eldership); supporting strategies (provision of basic needs and resources, well-functioning social systems, human rights, dignity, choice, justice and ethics, mutuality and collective responsibility, and strengthening of existing systems); interdependent core concepts (safety, transparency, and empowerment, holistic support, connectedness and collaboration, and compassion, protection and caring); and central goals (a sense of security, resilience, wellbeing, self- and collective-efficacy, hope, trust, resilience, and healing from grief and loss).

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