Transgenerational Trauma, Suicide and Healing from Sexual Abuse in the Kimberley Region, Australia


It is contended that transgenerational trauma — the transfer of the impacts of historical trauma and grief across successive generations of Aboriginal people — is manifest in the current social issues of interpersonal violence, suicide and sexual abuse in remote communities and towns of the Kimberley region. For Aboriginal youth, exposure to multiple layers of trauma results in a cumulative effect on the emergence of trauma symptomatology, which includes an increased risk of self harm, destructive behaviour and suicide.Research conducted in this region between 2000 to 2002 found support for a relationship between Aboriginal youth suicide, trauma exposure and post traumatic stress disorder. These findings were echoed in the daily work of staff with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council (KAMSC) Regional Centre for Social and Emotional Well Being, who had become increasingly aware of the interaction between child sexual abuse and youth suicide. At this time a young Aboriginal woman asked KAMSC to “do something” about child sexual abuse in her community, and started what became a powerful movement for the prevention of child sexual abuse, leading to the development of the KAMSC “We’re Not Gammin” sexual assault and child sexual abuse package.

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