A tale of compassion, empathy and inclusivity: Farewelling Riki Richards after a 29-year career at Auburn Hospital

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Met with smiles and hugs from her Auburn Hospital family, Riki Richards has received a heartfelt farewell from the hospital’s community as they celebrated the warmth, empathy, and dedication that she offered across nearly three decades as Surgical Ward Nurse Unit Manager (NUM).

Riki Richards began her career at Auburn Hospital in the 90s as a new graduate nurse before being offered the position of NUM, a role which gave her the opportunity to have a profound impact on the diverse community of western Sydney.

I became a NUM to make changes and support changes. I was fascinated with where you can go and what you can do. I came to work feeling like it was the most wonderful thing to go to work every day, you must love your job as a nurse to be a good nurse.

Riki Richards

While she is recognised for her vibrant pink hair and wide smile, Riki is admired throughout the district and wider community due to her advocacy for better standards and engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of western Sydney.

Riki has been a leader in the movement to improve standards for the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Auburn.

“The Auburn area didn’t have anything for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so I said: ‘I am an Aboriginal woman’ and put myself up for this position at Auburn Hospital to offer my support to make changes for the community.”

For Riki, the Spiritual Healing Garden that sits at the heart of Auburn Hospital is a very proud achievement as a result of her hard work.

Coming about after extensive community and executive engagement, the garden has traditional ties to Aboriginal culture and was designed to be welcoming to all communities.

It is a safe space for patients and visitors from all cultural backgrounds to sit and reflect.

Riki’s passion for the field of nursing and sensitivity to the diverse Auburn community led her to become a founding member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Forum which was formed to bring together Nursing and Midwifery staff to enable a safe space to network.

Handpicked by Western Sydney Local Health District’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery Maria Lingham to head the forum, Riki was paramount in showcasing how Auburn Hospital currently works with, and how it can continue to work with, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to have meaningful connections.

I encourage people who have an identity to come forward. We have a very inclusive environment and I’m grateful to people who have been comfortable enough with me to come forward.                                                                                                                                     

Riki Richards

After a career spanning close to 30 years, Riki has been an integral part of the transformation of the field of nursing at Auburn Hospital, witnessing and taking part in the movement towards a patient-centred human experience, focusing on having patients involved and giving them an opportunity to have a say in their treatment.

Patients now go home with support from the community and as time moved on, we have provided better services and better quality of care. Auburn is a place of fresh minds and fresh ideas, which just works.                                                                                  

Riki Richards

Acknowledging the incredible executive team at Auburn Hospital for endorsing new initiatives and constantly supporting new change, Riki told The Pulse: “It’s a family, a beautiful hospital and just a wonderful place”.

The remarkable influence of Riki has been felt not only within the walls of Auburn Hospital but across the entire district.

Her career is a tale of compassion, empathy, and inclusivity and it showcases the significant impact our nursing staff make to the western Sydney community.