Indigenous communities were involved at every stage of this new collaborative study exploring the contemporary role of elders in their midst.
The research was led by Dr Lucy Busija from the Institute for Health and Ageing at Australian Catholic University in partnership with a regional Indigenous community in Queensland, the local ACCHO (Carbal Aboriginal Medical Service), and the University of QLD Rural Clinical School.
Dr Busija’s team found that greater support is needed to strengthen the role of Elders, especially in relation to issues tied to the Stolen Generation. Loss of traditional knowledge and low indigenous life expectancy are some of the consequences of stolen generation observed by the research team.
“The stolen generation had a devastating effect in the community as a whole, including in terms of transfer of knowledge because people have been taken away from their communities. So, the traditional elders; the elders of the community have not been able to pass their knowledge onto the current generation of elders,' she says "Elders, in addition to dealing with their own trauma are finding themselves in a position where they are having to reconstruct the knowledge. There is also grief. Not only personal grief. There is also grief about the loss of culture, the loss of language and the loss of knowledge.”
The study also concluded that by empowering Elders with the support necessary to address issues in their communities, we can make a positive step in closing the gap and transferring sacred spiritual knowledge.