Tahlia Eastman

Transgenerational Passing from an Indigenous perspective: how cultural connectedness affects youth mental health

Profile photo of Tahlia Eastman wearing a light jumper with a turtle neck


Racial and cultural passing survives veiled in the archives, lives as a performance in the present, and creeps unsuspectingly into the lives of future generations. While many First Nations people intentionally passed for survival or privilege, others unknowingly passed transgenerationally, only to discover their cultural histories and uncover complex familial pasts.

In times of overt political and social discrimination, passing became a real and viable option, perhaps as a last resort to access opportunities reserved exclusively for non-Indigenous people. What resulted is a legacy of transgenerational trauma that permeates the psyche of many First Nations people.

Developing a strong cultural identity is fundamental for Indigenous young people who experience discrimination, racism, and prejudice. Understanding the relationship between identity formation and mental health enables this work to deeper analyse the effects of transgenerational passing, to ensure that those impacted by historical passing can find strength and pride in their identity.



Centre for Youth Mental Health, Orygen, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

About Tahlia

Tahlia Eastman is of pakana and European descent. She is a Research Fellow at the Indigenous Studies Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne.

As a doctoral candidate with a scholarship from the Orygen Centre for Youth Mental Health, Tahlia explores transgenerational passing from an Indigenous perspective, researching in Tasmania. She has researched Indigenous family violence in two projects funded by the Australian National Research Office for Women’s Safety. In addition, she contributes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula Project and Community Data Project.

As a consultant, Tahlia was a contributing writer and researcher for Marcia Langton, Welcome to Country, A Travel Guide to Indigenous Australia (2nd ed), and has contributed to many other writing and editing projects. Tahlia previously worked as a Policy Research Adviser at the Lowitja Institute and contributed to key First Nations research and policy frameworks.

Research profiles


EASTMAN, T. (2023). Passing in plain sight: reclaiming narratives of hidden Aboriginality. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/11771801221147061

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