Visitors, patients and community members gathered on Darug land on the morning of 13 July to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2022 at Blacktown Hospital.
Wiradjuri woman Aunty Christine Foreshaw, who has lived in Blacktown for 55 years and given birth to all five of her children at the hospital, opened the event with an acknowledgement to country and said, “today we acknowledge the care for each other, the care for our land, and ensure the care for our children coming up”.
“It’s important to share our knowledge and enjoy the celebrations and activities of today, and I am delighted to see the turn out today which shows our community presence.”
NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living culture on earth.
If you’re not first nations, thank you for taking the time to come along and learn about our culture,” said emcee Gumaroy Newman.
“Come and approach us and ‘Get Up, Stand Up! Show Up!’ – we’re willing to share our stories. This is an everyday message.”
Gumaroy, who is a didgeridoo player, storyteller, educator, songman, and poet, engaged the audience with the help of performer and dancer Robert Weatherall.
Educating the audience on Aboriginal traditions throughout the morning, he explained why both he and Rob painted their bodies in white clay saying, “because we’re simply passing through, and guests of the beautiful elders here, we must wear white for protection”.
One poem Gumaroy recited also left the audience nodding as he said, “Aboriginies – we might have blonde hair and blue eyes or are covered with freckles, with the fairest of skin; but you know when you’re black, because it comes from within”.
Robert, who was removed from his birth family as an infant, also shared his family story, giving audiences insight into the complexities and trauma still affecting Aboriginal people to this day.
After the performances, Aboriginal Liaison Officers Yvonne To’a, Elva Wright and Aboriginal Health Practitioner Lynette Mieni participated in a flag raising ceremony on stage and Uncle Elvis Fields led everyone into the courtyard for a smoking ceremony.
“I was delighted to see so many people gather for these celebrations, including the children from the Coolamon Cottage childcare centre,” said Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals facility director allied health Bobbi Henao Urrego.
“Everyone has an opportunity to ‘get up, stand up and show up’, across all spectrums of their lives – work, home, with your children, and families.
“Times like NAIDOC Week act as a great reminder that we all have a role in closing the gap.”