Northern Health celebrated NAIDOC Week with an official launch in the Northern Hospital front foyer.
NAIDOC originally stands for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s, which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
This year’s theme – Voice, Treaty, Truth, highlights the three key elements to the reforms that were set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Statement outlines the path forward for recognising Indigenous Australians in the nation’s constitution. It is an invitation to work together for a shared future.
Senior Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer and MC for today’s NAIDOC Celebrations Karen Bryant says, it is a timely invitation.
“Lasting and effective agreement cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of our history, of how we got to where we stand.”
Karen makes the point, “This is not just the history of our First Peoples, it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it!”
Guest speakers included proud Yorta Yorta/Gunditjmara Woman, Kanisha Bamblett, and Associate Professor Luke Burchill from the University of Melbourne and lead for their Aboriginal Cardiovascular Health Disparities Program.
“NAIDOC week is about coming together as a community for all Australians, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to recognise the richness of Aboriginal culture around the country,” Assoc. Professor Burchill said.
“We as Aboriginal people have a shared responsibility to keep our culture alive, by carrying the torch passed to us by our ancestors. Intrinsic to honouring our ancestors is honouring our land – this ancient land that we as First Nations people have nurtured for longer than anyone,” added Assoc. Professor Burchill.
Explaining his work as the lead for the Aboriginal cardiovascular health disparities program at the University of Melbourne, Assoc. Professor Burchill said “The good news is lots of Aboriginal babies are being born – but follow these children to their mid 20’s and 30’s and we see a rise in early deaths. The leading cause of these deaths being heart disease.”
He went on to add, “My mission as a cardiologist and as a member of Victoria’s Aboriginal community is to close the gap on Aboriginal health disparities.”
The celebrations concluded with a performance by One Fire Aboriginal Dance Company.
The Northern Hospital front foyer has been transformed into a display of Aboriginal history, taking us on a journey about Voice, Treaty, Truth.
Chief Executive, Siva Sivarajah said, “Creating a warm and culturally welcoming space for our Aboriginal community has been a priority for Northern Health this past year.”
“These initiatives aim to provide a welcoming environment for our Aboriginal community at Northern Health, as well as strengthen our connections to our diverse community.”
Staff, patients and visitors are encouraged to view and participate in the NAIDOC Week display in the front foyer.