Stolen Generations learning module for archivists to improve records access for Aboriginal people

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday June 1, 2021

(Image: Adobe/ rashmisingh)

A new online learning module developed for archivists about the impact child-removal policies have had on intergenerational trauma has been designed to teach archivists how to support Stolen Generations survivors and their families. 

The Better Access to Stolen Generations Records module has been launched by the Australian Society of Archivists in partnership with the Healing Foundation. 

Nicola Laurent, president of the Australian Society of Archivists, said the free online training provides best practice guidance on providing access to Stolen Generations records, with a focus on healing.

“Better understanding both the history and ongoing impact of trauma on survivors means archivists can provide these vital records, including deeply important information around family, identity and experience, in a respectful and safe way,” Laurent said.

Running for approximately 3-4 hours, the six part module is a standalone training package. It canvasses the ongoing impacts of Australian laws, policies and practices on ATSI communities today, and demonstrates how to provide ‘trauma-aware’ and ‘healing-informed’ access to records.

Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said that it was important archivists learn about important historical and social matters concerning the forced removal of children from ATSI communities as a way to realise truth-telling and reconciliation.

“This module will ensure that specific training is available so that Stolen Generations records are accessible, usable and will benefit individuals, families and communities trying to trace their history and reconnect with lost family members,” Cornforth said. 

“It will address the contemporary needs of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants who have been telling us for years that they need support accessing their records under the current system,” she added.

The online training was designed by the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education & Research in collaboration with the Find and Connect team at University of Melbourne. 

Better access to records relating to stolen children and improving their preservation, is a key part of The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen initiative. The foundation’s plan of action includes establishing a historical records taskforce to advance recommendations made in the federal 1997 Bringing Them Home report to government.

“This training package is designed around trauma-aware, healing-informed principles with a view to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on a healing journey, accessing family records,” Cornforth said.


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