Smoking ceremony paves the way for Westmead’s new hospital building

Senior Darug man Lex Dadd performed the smoking ceremony.

A traditional Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony has marked the start of construction of Westmead’s new central acute services building – a vital part of the $900 million Westmead Redevelopment, the state’s biggest health development project.

The Smoking Ceremony, performed by senior Darug man Lex Dadd, was held today (September 8) on the site of the new hospital building, which is due for completion in 2020.

The new central acute services building will link Westmead Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and host several adult and paediatric services including emergency, pharmacy and imaging.

The Smoking Ceremony marked the start of a long-term collaboration between the Westmead Redevelopment project and the local Aboriginal community, which will be reflected in artworks and facilities in the new hospital building.

Western Sydney Local Health District Westmead Redevelopment executive director Leena Singh said the Smoking Ceremony represented Aboriginal tradition and healthcare coming together, and reinforced the project’s commitment to planning health facilities with its diverse communities.

Aboriginal health workers Shai Griggs and Narelle Holden with senior Darug man Lex Dadd, Westmead Redevelopment executive director Leena Singh and Multiplex regional director Daniel Murphy.

“Our commitment is to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and the community to build a positive and lasting tradition at Westmead,” she said.

“We are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to ensure all people feel safe, welcome and connected when they walk onto the precinct and into our buildings.

“We are constantly reviewing the way we deliver healthcare and how our patients and families experience care to ensure we are providing the best service possible.”

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Aboriginal health management advisor Lisa Crawford said it was important for Aboriginal people to see their culture reflected in health facilities.

“Embedding an Aboriginal world view into health facilities through construction, planning and design provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to feel welcomed, valued and celebrated within the community,” she said.

“I am proud of the Westmead precinct’s ongoing commitment to collaborating and working in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members, Elders and communities to ensure the new hospital building is reflective of Aboriginal culture and history.”

Westmead Redevelopment major contractor Multiplex will target Aboriginal employment during construction of the new building, committing five per cent of the total contract price to Aboriginal workers.

“We feel privileged to be part of the Westmead community and want our role here to extend beyond the life of the project,” said Multiplex regional director Daniel Murphy.

“As well as our commitment to offering apprenticeships and traineeships that exceed government targets, we have partnered with Indigenous employment networks and other agencies to assist some of the disadvantaged in our community to gain sustainable employment in construction.”

The new central acute services building will include two new emergency departments — one for adults and one for children, operating/interventional suites with specialised technology and equipment, a new Cardiac Comprehensive Care Centre, modern patient bedrooms and education, training and research areas. One and a half floors of the building will also become a new central home for the University of Sydney at Westmead as part of its expanded investment in the precinct.

Other important elements of the redevelopment include infrastructure upgrades across the precinct and a staged refurbishment of Westmead Hospital.

Complementing the redevelopment, a $500 million investment from the University of Sydney will improve education, training and research facilities and initiatives at Westmead over the next 15 years.

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