Western Health celebrated National NAIDOC Week
2015, focusing on the theme: We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect
& Celebrate, which highlighted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples’ strong spiritual and cultural connection to land and sea.
The Aboriginal Cultural Events Working Group decided to run
a photographic competition, inviting staff and volunteers to
participate and share their stories using photography to highlight a place of
significance for them, including a short paragraph of why it is a site of
significance. The competition was supported by the Western Health Foundation
with prizes proudly donated by FUJIFILM.
“We had an overwhelming response from staff and volunteers,
which made it very difficult for the judges to choose winners,” Aboriginal
Health, Policy and Planning Manager, Jacqueline Watkins said.
“However there could only be three finalists and the winners
were announced at our NAIDOC Week event on Monday 6 July.”
First prize went to Western Health Registered Nurse, Andrew
Higgins, for his photo titled “A Hidden Beauty.”
“This photo represents what Australia has to offer,” Andrew
said in his entry submission. “A hidden beauty in our own backyard, which many
people would not know existed. Full of wildlife, water and mountain ranges.
Explore your own backyard before heading overseas! Located in Palm Valley; part
of the Fink Gorge National Park, Northern Territory. Thanks to the Western
Arrernte People for allowing us to visit.”
Second prize was awarded to Cancer Services Project Officer,
Tammy Dinh for her photograph, ‘Mirring-gray-bir-nong’ Sunset Reflections.
“As I walk along this Maribyrnong River, it is a constant
reminder that we share this wonderful land with the Aboriginal people, we don’t
need to travel, for the connection is right where we live, the beautiful
colours in this reflected sunset is a reminder,” Tammy wrote.
The third prize was awarded to Suzanne Strachan from
Communications – Switchboard for her unique photo titled ‘Portal.’
“My children loved playing around this fallen tree along the
Werribee River, to them it was a portal to a magical realm, to me it
represented the ability we all possess, to see the potential adventure, wonder
and to make our own magic,” Suzanne explained of her photo.
National Reconciliation Week was marked across Western Health in May 2014 with the unveiling of new artwork, commissioned specifically for Western Health sites.
The new artwork is now on display at Sunshine, Footscray and Williamstown Hospitals, along with the Sunbury Day Hospital.
The event also seen the launch of a new Aboriginal Health Office at Sunshine Hospital to assist in providing a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and staff.
The North West Metropolitan Region of Melbourne is now home to the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Victoria. Approximately 12,000 Aboriginal people live and work in the region, which represents a 30% population increase since 2006.
There has been an increase in the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and in the number accessing services at Western Health, in particular in our Midwifery Group Practice. This year alone we have recorded 15 births compared to a total of six births recorded in 2013.
"This is a new beginning for our Aboriginal Health Unit, by being visible within the health service, we have been able to create a presence and now feel a part of the Western Health family, as well as having an environment where families can relax and escape from the sometimes overwhelming situation that has brought them to hospital," Western Health's Aboriginal Health Policy and Planning Manager, Jacqueline Watkins said of the new office space at Sunshine Hospital.
"It was a very proud moment to see the beautiful artwork hung in the front foyer, as they represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ideal of health as holistic. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.
"As an organisation, we should feel extremely privileged to have such works specifically designed for us," Jacqueline added.