Overcoming trauma associated with racism and problematic alcohol and other drug use.
In 2020, the Queensland Mental Health Commission released Don’t Judge, and Listen – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, families and individuals experiences of stigma and discrimination related to problematic alcohol and other drug (AOD) use.
The research builds and strengthens existing community capacity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with key points of liaison with community established through the identification and remuneration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members who acted as local co-facilitators. Researchers followed culturally safe Trauma-Informed Practice and Care principles in its design and implementation.
The study included a literature review, consultations with sector stakeholders and with communities across five diverse locations in Queensland.
This presentation will include a summary of the research approach, key findings and case studies.
- The experience of racism in relation to stereotypes of AOD use, had significantly impacted perceptions of self and community.
- Regular alcohol drinking and the use of some other drugs were not automatically perceived as ‘problematic’ but rather a safety valve and means for relieving stress.
- Elders suggested use was to deal with pain, fear and trauma and noted the importance of educating communities to understand this connection.
- Stigma was associated with traditional medicine in western science and the health system does not allow it to be incorporated into care.
- Cultural barriers of perceived shame to access services was significantly assisted by the availability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander operated services where cultural healing practices where incorporated. Some participants preferred the anonymity of mainstream services but expected these services to provide a culturally safe environment.
- Connections to land, family and culture were key strengths in resilience and overcoming racist behaviour. Participants reported feeling their best when connected to family and culture.
- Employment and education were seen as fundamental drivers of mental health and wellbeing.