Understanding Trauma and Child Maltreatment Experienced in Indigenous Communities

  • Deb DuthieEmail author
  • Sharon Steinhauer
  • Catherine Twinn
  • Vincent Steinhauer
  • Bob Lonne
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 9)


This chapter critiques historical and contemporary child protection approaches that are viewed as replicating the colonialist practices of child removal and destruction of families/parenting and communities. Using Australia and Canada as examples, it focuses upon three different sources of the disadvantage and distress that Indigenous communities typically experience: the impacts of Colonisation; intergenerational trauma; and the ongoing social, economic, legal and political inequalities that stem from deep-seated inequity. Public health approaches that are culturally safe and non-stigmatising, community controlled and which embrace early intervention and prevention are needed. Principles are provided for system reforms and innovations in policy and practice. The chapter promotes understanding of the complexity that exists, and why the solutions must be multi-level, and multi-facetted in order to turn around the over-representation of Western viewpoints that drives child protection and the resultant gross over-representation of Indigenous children in these systems. This chapter highlights that despite the scope and scale of issues being faced, Indigenous communities nonetheless have well-developed and resilient informal helping and relational networks that can facilitate healing approaches. Examples are given of community initiatives, strategies, programs and services that herald positive processes and outcomes for Indigenous children, families and communities.


Aboriginal Child abuse and neglect Colonization Early intervention Indigenous Inter-generational trauma Maltreatment Prevention Public health 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deb Duthie
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sharon Steinhauer
    • 2
  • Catherine Twinn
    • 3
  • Vincent Steinhauer
    • 2
  • Bob Lonne
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Social WorkQueensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue QuillsSt. PaulCanada
  3. 3.Twinn LawEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.School of HealthUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia

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