“You can’t replace that feeling of connection to culture and country”: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic


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

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022, 19(24), 16724. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416724

This Aboriginal-led study explores Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents’ experiences of COVID-19. 110 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents were interviewed between October 2020 and March 2022. Participants were recruited through community networks and partner health services in South Australia, Victoria, and Northern Territory, Australia. Participants were predominantly female (89%) and based in Victoria (47%) or South Australia (45%). Inductive thematic analysis identified three themes: (1) Changes to daily living; (2) Impact on social and emotional wellbeing; and (3) Disconnection from family, community, and culture. COVID-19 impacted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Disruption to cultural practice, and disconnection from country, family, and community was detrimental to wellbeing. These impacts aggravated pre-existing inequalities and may continue to have greater impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and communities due to intergenerational trauma, stemming from colonisation, violence and dispossession and ongoing systemic racism. We advocate for the development of a framework that ensures an equitable approach to future public health responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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