Sophie* and her partner found their world had turned upside down with the sudden arrival of their premature twin girls. The couple were transferred to Western Health's Joan Kirner Women and Children's, from regional Victoria to receive the necessary level of medical care for mum and babies. With no time to prepare for the sudden stay in hospital and away from their support network, the family who identify as Aboriginal welcomed the support they have received from Western Health's Wilim Berrbang team.
Wilim Berrbang offers cultural support and assistance to patients at Western Health who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. As part of the program Sophie received a Welcome Pack with essential items to assist them with their unexpected admission. All Australian products using native ingredients, the culturally safe welcome kits are funded by The Western Health Foundation and include essentials such as; body wash, shampoo, conditioner, dental kit, shaving set, eye mask, ear plugs and notebook and pen as well as information about the work of the Wilim Berrbang team and further support services and information.
"There was a lot of thought and consideration to put together items that reflected what patients needed for their stay in hospital," said Tanya Druce, Manager of Aboriginal Health, Policy and Planning. "We asked our Western Health Aboriginal community what they would want during an inpatient stay and that helped us decide what would go into the packs."
"The Welcome Packs add to our efforts to touch base in a meaningful way with every inpatient at Western Health who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander," said Ms Druce.
The team have also coordinated a group of volunteer's hand knitting beanies and bassinette blankets for babies born at Joan Kirner Women and Children's, particularly through the Galinjera Maternity Program. The beanies and blankets are specifically for babies whose families identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are knitted in the colours of the corresponding flags.
"Because I wasn't prepared to come to hospital, the toiletries in the Welcome Pack were really handy. The Wilim Berrbang staff gave me the Welcome Pack as well as two beanies knitted in the Aboriginal flag colours – red, yellow and black. They are so adorable and they were the perfect size," said Sophie.
"It helps staff to recognise that the girls' are Aboriginal and it is a connection to our culture for the babies. The girls are doing really well and we are looking forward to going home soon."
*name changed to protect the patient's identity and privacy