Reconciliation Week – a time for celebration

For Sydney Children's Hospitals Network nurse, Elise McCarthy-McPhan, National Reconciliation Week is a time for celebration.

“Reconciliation Week is about acknowledging our history but also celebrating how far we have come as a united country,” Elise said.

Elise, a Dharug woman who grew up on Biripi Country, is passionate about improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients by actively supporting her colleagues to in providing culturally respectful and considerate care.

This week, during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) it's a time to explore how we can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia and Elise has been working hard at her home base of the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick to achieve this goal. 

Elise recently received a Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healthcare.

 “I have always been an advocate for Aboriginal healthcare and workforce. My dad always taught me that with each opportunity I am given, the more opportunities I can give to others.”

After working as a nurse at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick for four years, Elise is now working as a clinical nurse educator (CNE) for undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programs. Her role involves implementing education across the hospital and supporting nurses clinically.

Elise strongly supports education about Aboriginal health and service delivery in a culturally safe environment. In addition to her role as CNE, she provides training for her colleagues on cultural protocols when engaging with Aboriginal people.

“Given that I am very open about my identity and advocacy for Aboriginal patients, I have a lot of nurses approaching me for advice about cultural sensitivity when communicating with Aboriginal patients and families,” she says. “It’s about creating a platform that is safe for everyone.”

Elise says she became a nurse to help “close the gap”.

“Talking about my Aboriginality lets other staff know it is celebrated in the Hospital,” she says. “Even though these are little conversations, these conversations will have long term effects.”

“I think it’s really important that the Hospital recognises weeks like this to celebrate and move forward. It’s a celebration of weeks like this that will implement change in the long term.”

Network Aboriginal Health Management Advisor, Mick Scarcella, applauds Elise’s commitment to making a difference.

“Elise has a great understanding of cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and their carers,” he says.

“Elise has shown exceptional leadership and often goes well above and beyond her duty as a CNE. Elise proudly wears the hat of a strong and proud Aboriginal woman, a leader and educator.”

See our Aboriginal health plan.

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