Professor Leonie Segal - 2023 Mary Kirk Fellowship Recipient

The 2023 recipient of the Mary Kirk Fellowship is Professor Leonie Segal.

Professor Segal, a leading researcher in the field of intergenerational trauma, is Foundation Chair, Health Economics and Social Policy, Australian Centre for Precision Health, University of South Australia. She has published widely in international journals on the mechanism of intergenerational trauma and the devastating extent of the harms. She works in partnership with government and the NGO sector to explore policy options to reverse this pattern.

Professor Segal’s research shows that children of parents who themselves suffered serious abuse are likely to suffer similar outcomes, with very extensive and significant associated harms.

Intergenerational transmission is the dominant child maltreatment pathway. Causal mechanisms include altered brain development, distorted relational patterning, heightened stress response as well as the direct impact of trauma or profound neglect. Professor Segal says these mechanisms explain why child abuse and neglect can have such devastating consequences. And why the children of mothers with an abuse or neglect history are far more likely to be abused or neglected — despite a fervent desire of parents not to repeat this pattern.

Professor Segal presented her lecture ‘Ending the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma – Changing Life Trajectories’ in Canberra on 24th May 2023. You can view the recording below:

Professor Segal is currently preparing a complementary written piece, which will be published on completion.

This project was funded by the Canberra Mothercraft Society under the Mary Kirk Fellowship.