Racism as trauma: experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian child protection practitioners

Oates, Fiona (2020) Racism as trauma: experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian child protection practitioners. Child Abuse and Neglect. (In Press)

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Abstract

Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are disproportionately represented in the statutory child protection system across Australia. A strategy gaining traction to address this disproportionate representation is to recruit more Indigenous practitioners into statutory child protection work. However, the experiences of Indigenous people who undertake child protection work have not been explored thoroughly, particularly in an Australian research context.

Objective: While it has been established in contemporary literature that exposure to trauma is an expected occupational hazard of undertaking statutory child protection work, the experience of racism as a potential source of traumatic stress for practitioners has not been explicitly explored.

Participants and Setting: This paper reports on results from a recent doctoral study which explored the experiences of Indigenous child protection practitioners based in Queensland, Australia.

Method: This research relied on the stories of participants, shared through qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews, to answer the primary research question: what are the experiences of Indigenous child protection workers? The findings emerged from a research design that was underpinned by critical theory and decolonisation frameworks, which placed the participants as experts of their own experiences.

Results: The experiences of the research participants tell the story of a deficiency within the statutory child protection system to meet the wellbeing needs of Indigenous workers and provide a workplace environment that is culturally safe. Participants described recurrent experiences of racist behaviour displayed by non-Indigenous colleagues and a lack of support that acknowledges the distinctive experience of Indigenous people who undertake child protection work.

Item ID: 61029
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-7757
Funders: Australian Government Research Training Scholarship
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 03:04
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160799 Social Work not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9499 Other Law, Politics and Community Services > 949999 Law, Politics and Community Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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