Cleansing smoke clearly defines Westmead Health Precinct’s cultural focus

Westmead Health Precinct staff and executive gathered with representatives from the Aboriginal community for a traditional smoking ceremony.

A significant cultural piece of the Westmead Health Precinct story played out this week beneath the new forecourt of the Central Acute Services Building (CASB).

Partners from across the precinct joined Aboriginal Elder Uncle Wes as he led a smoking ceremony to spiritually cleanse the area in readiness for the new hospital’s upcoming opening.

He explained the ceremony’s traditional significance amid light plumes pushed around the small amphitheatre of the Cultural Gathering Place by the rising breeze.

“It’s necessary,” Uncle Wes said. “It represents a new beginning for this space.”

Aboriginal elder Uncle Wesley Marne led the proceeding.

He then welcomed guests to walk through the smoke to further signify starting afresh in peace.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) chief executive Graeme Loy told guests the smoking ceremony was a crucial event in the lead-up to the CASB opening.

“Our magnificent new building is only one piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“We’re here for our patients and those in the community who need us.

“But a critical part of the role we play also sits around culture and the particular focus we have on Aboriginal culture through our communities, employees and friends.

“This event is crucial before we start in the new building.”

Guests at the event included representatives from Westmead Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, University of Sydney, Health Infrastructure, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and Children’s Medical Research Institute.

The Adults’ Emergency Department will be the first service to relocate into the 14-level CASB on Wednesday 17 February.

The state-of-the-art new hospital will ultimately feature two new emergency departments – one for adults, one for children – more than 300 patient rooms, 25 digital operating theatres and a suite of other features.