Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia


Publication Date: 1 Sep. 2003
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781876756222

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    Reviews and Awards

    2003 Shortlist, The Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing

    What Trauma Trails ultimately offers is a pathway to healing through the listening to, and telling of, stories that is based in Indigenous cultural and spiritual practices (the We-Ali program). This book speaks to the wisdom of the elders, to the incredible strength of Indigenous peoples, and to the enduring power of women.

    –Ambelin Kwaymullina, Australian Women Writers

    I recommend this complex, well-composed and emotionally satisfying book to anyone who has an interest in improving the quality of Australian psychological work.

    –Craig San Roque, Aboriginal History 2004, Vol 28

    'Trauma Trails is a remarkable book by any standards … [it has] much to say about diagnosis and treatment, of individuals and whole social groups. It is a substantial reconciliative achievement and should encourage others to bridge the cultural divide in imaginative ways.'

    –Antonia Esten, Journal of Australian Studies


    I was running a workshop in the Kimberleys, and in the circle a woman began to speak from a place of deep pain and despair. She described herself as bad, dirty, ugly, words she had taken into herself from childhood experiences of abuse. I lent forward and sang her a song. “How could anyone ever tell you, you are anything less than beautiful ...” While sitting with her, as the words settled into her soul, another woman said to the circle: you are recreating song lines — from trauma trails. I was honoured by this description of my work.’

    Providing a startling answer to the questions of how to solve the problems of generational trauma, Trauma Trails moves beyond the rhetoric of victimhood, and provides inspiration for anyone concerned about Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities today. Beginning with issues of colonial dispossession, Judy Atkinson also sensitively deals with trauma caused by abuse, alcoholism and drug dependency.

    Then, through the use of a culturally appropriate research approach called Dadirri: listening to one another, Judy presents and analyses the stories of a number of Indigenous people. From her analysis of these “stories of pain, stories of healing”, she is able to point both Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers in the direction of change and healing.