‘A great symbol of us coming together’: smoking ceremony marks new era for Blacktown Hospital

Staff and community members at the smoking ceremony.

A new chapter for Blacktown Hospital has been marked with a powerful Aboriginal smoking ceremony today.

The ceremony welcomed Blacktown’s new hospital building, part of the NSW Government’s $700 million Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals’ expansion project.

Aboriginal Elder Brendan Kerin from the Local Metropolitan Aboriginal Lands Council conducted the ceremony and spoke about the significance of the tradition.

“A smoking ceremony isn’t just about picking the nearest leaves and burning them,” Brendan said.

“It starts even before I pick the leaf.

“Smoking ceremonies are done to get rid of bad spirits and energy.

“Out of respect we let the ancestors and spirits know that we are having a gathering on country, clean the slate and make everything fresh.”

Brendan initiates the smoking ceremony.

Staff and visitors watched the ceremony as they were invited to cleanse themselves with the smoke.

“The smoke is a shower for the inside of the body,” Brendan said.

Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals’ general manager Ned Katrib said the ceremony signified a fresh start.

“We’ve got a brand new ability to connect with the land,” Ned said.

“We are recognising the history and culture of this land and reuniting with our Indigenous partners.

Aboriginal Elder Brendan Kerin with Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals’ general manager Ned Katrib.

“We’ve come such a long way.  The cleansing and starting a new chapter with this ceremony is a great symbol of us coming together.

“In every chapter we take, we will be doing it together as a community.”

For more information about the NSW Government’s Blacktown & Mount Druitt hospitals’ expansion project, visit www.bmdhproject.nsw.gov.au