Recognising the past during Reconciliation Week

Westmead Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Narelle Holden, Westmead and Auburn hospitals general manager Brett Thompson, WSLHD Aboriginal Health Service manager Belinda Cashman, and WSLHD Aboriginal Immunisation liaison officer Joanne Cheatham at Close the Gap Day earlier this year.

Staff and the public are invited to a group walk next week as Western Sydney Local Health District observes Reconciliation Week.

The week will begin with a traditional smoking ceremony at Cumberland Hospital on Monday, where new Aboriginal health strategy director Braiden Abala will speak about reconciliation and health, followed by a healing walk to Westmead Hospital.

Auburn Hospital will host a smoking ceremony on Tuesday morning, there will be a reconciliation walk and morning tea at Blacktown Hospital on Wednesday, and Mount Druitt Hospital will have an afternoon tea on Thursday.

The purpose of Reconciliation Week – which begins with National Sorry Day on Sunday – is to foster positive race relations grounded in a foundation of truth.

Westmead Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Narelle Holden said the week would be an opportunity to bring people of all backgrounds together in celebration.

“It’s about recognising what happened in the past, understanding each other’s perspectives and cultures, and bringing it all together and uniting as one,” she said.

Narelle said Western Sydney is making progress with Aboriginal health outcomes by recognising the need to include Aboriginal perspectives at all levels of decision making.

She said this was evident throughout planning of the Westmead Redevelopment, which is set to feature an Aboriginal family room among other measures to help Aboriginal patients feel welcome, safe and connected.

Narelle also said Westmead Hospital was one of the first in Australia to accommodate for cultural ceremonies in the hospital during the bereavement process for Aboriginal families.

The Reconciliation Week ceremony will begin at 10.30am at Cumberland Hospital on Monday, May 27, at Wirabilla Building 64.

The walk to Westmead Hospital will begin at 11.30am, with a flag raising ceremony in the Research and Education Network garden area due to begin at midday.