Authors:

Dr Jacynta Krakouer

 

Background

With growing overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC), cultural disconnection is an omnipresent threat. Despite research and inquiries that have highlighted the risk of cultural disconnection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in OOHC, limited research has explored Indigenous children and young people’s experiences of cultural connection in the Australian context. Informed by Indigenous Standpoint Theory, this Aboriginal-led qualitative study sought to understand 10 OOHCexperienced Aboriginal young people’s experiences of cultural connection over time, including after exit from OOHC, through retrospective interviews that employed a phenomenological lens. It was found that Aboriginal young people experienced cultural connection as a heterogenous process involving identity formation and the practice of culture, enacted as a choice over time. The complexity of Aboriginal young people’s experiences of cultural connection over time gives rise to a new understanding of cultural connection as a journey of culturally connecting, wherein the risk of cultural disconnection is complicated by intergenerational child removals, dominant discourse about what constitutes Aboriginal culture, and removal from an Aboriginal cultural milieu.