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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Aboriginal Elder praises Blacktown Hospital's progress during NAIDOC Week

Date posted: 7 July 2017

Blacktown Hospital is setting the standard for Indigenous health engagement, according to Aboriginal liaison Yvonne To’a.

The Wiradjuri Elder has lived on Darug land for 42 years and been working at Blacktown Hospital for nearly two decades.

Since her teenage years, Ms To’a has worked with Aboriginal people in every field from health to employment and corrective services.

'I like to help my people when they come in,' she said. “Aboriginal people are good at listening.

Ms To’a organised the NAIDOC Week celebration at Blacktown Hospital on Wednesday morning, which featured speeches from Elders and four dances accompanied by Brendan Kerin on the Didgeridoo.

Ms To’a said the day is not just a showcase of Indigenous culture, but also a chance for the hospital to support Aboriginal people.

She said many Aboriginal people are reluctant to visit hospital due to trauma from the Stolen Generations.

'Most of the time the children were hidden in the hospitals, and there is a fear because it's a white institution,' she said.

'But now it’s different. With an Aboriginal worker in here, they’re quite happy to come in and know that I’ll be here to check on them and see another black face in the hospital.'

Ms To’a said the expansion of the hospital has seen it become more 'Koori-friendly' through discussions with Elders, smoking ceremonies, the inclusion of traditional art and language, and employing Aboriginal construction workers.

Mr Rophail said the key to improving Aboriginal health outcomes lay in ongoing community consultation.

'We’re really committed to understanding the historical context, and engaging with elders and community, having them involved in designing and planning the services we’re going to deliver,' he said.

'We’re trying to understand their perspective and understand what we can do differently to reduce the barriers to access and some of the historical fears. And also making hospitals a much more welcoming place to Aboriginal people. It's got to be a partnership,' he said.

Source: Blacktown Sun


Last updated: 10 July 2017
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