Resilience and urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmother raising their grandchildren

Kilcullen, Meegan, Swinbourne, Anne, and Cadet-James, Yvonne (2009) Resilience and urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmother raising their grandchildren. In: Papers from the AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference. From: AIATSIS National Indigenous Studies Conference, 29 September - 01 October 2009, Canberra, ACT, Australia.

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The poorer health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is well documented across physical, social, and mental health. In amongst the heath statistics however, there is an almost invisible yet resilient group. A grandparent raising their grandchildren is not a new phenomenon in this community. However the factors contributing to the children coming to their care has changed over the past decades. Historically, the parents continued to be a part of their children’s lives when children were in grandparental care. Currently this is less likely to be the case, leaving grandmothers to raise the children without parental support. Grandmothers in rural and remote areas have reported negative social pressures that have affected their psychological and social functioning in their roles as primary carer. The grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren are in effect addressing and interrupting the intergenerational transfer of trauma and distress. It is therefore critical to support the grannies who take up this important role. As the majority of research is conducted in rural or remote areas it is also important to describe the experiences of urban grandmothers. The current study aimed to identify urban grandmothers who had found a way to successfully navigate through the reported negative experiences and continue to functioning positively. The current study utilised a positive psychology framework in order to identify the strengths that promote resilience of urban Indigenous grandmothers who are raising, or have raised their grandchildren. Seven grandmothers who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander participated in qualitative interviews of approximately one-hour duration. Analysis was conducted using a grounded theory method. Grandmothers described several psychosocial factors providing strength and enhancing their resilience while raising their grandchildren. Sociocultural factors included developing and maintaining social networks, maintaining traditional kinship structure, participating in traditional adoption, employment, and religion. Psychological factors included acceptance of life situations, self-reliance, being facilitators of family healing, implementing problem-solving skills, and flexibility of responses. As these older Indigenous women provide a link between generations through their connectedness to traditional knowledge and support mechanisms, supporting these women is crucial to the improvement of the health and well-being of the Indigenous community by the growing up of ‘healthier’ children.

Item ID: 24992
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
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Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2014 05:33
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Studies @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 50%
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