Aboriginal health services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Contact details

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer 

Enquiries: (02) 9845 2641 or (02) 9845 2642

The Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer (AHLO) at The Children's Hospital at Westmead plays an important role in the care, welfare and assistance of Aboriginal patients and families.  The AHLO assists patients and families to access health and support services and to ensure a responsive and respectful patient journey through the provision of advocacy in the clinical and non-clinical aspects of the patient journey. To do this, the AHLO provides a level of support to clients regarding their: admission; understanding of treatment, case management, referral pathways, and discharge; and awareness of follow-up treatment for the services’ Aboriginal patients.

The AHLO is notified of Aboriginal patients in the Hospital's Emergency Department, when they are admitted or when they attend Outpatients clinics.  This connection is reliant on patients choosing to identify as Aboriginal when talking with the clerical officers on intake.

The AHLO is aligned through Social Work, please contact Social Work for client support in urgent or essential situations.

The Aboriginal Children’s Memorial Garden

The Aboriginal Children's Memorial Garden is a healing space for families whose children are being treated here at present and will be in the future. It is a place for reconciliation, for sharing of stories and for finding comfort in their grief and hope for the future.  This garden draws together families, community members and hospital staff with a vision of hope and healing which embraces all cultures.

Everyone is encouraged to use the space appropriately and to dispose of rubbish in the bins provided. Cigarette smoking is not appropriate on the grounds of the hospital.  Please use the designated smoking area at the front of the hospital to protect the health of sick clients, children, staff and families who use our facilities.

The garden concept was initiated in 1995 by Rita Williams, Senior Aboriginal Health Education Officer. It acknowledges the stories of Aboriginal families whose children have been, are and will continue to be treated at this Hospital. In particular, it remembers the children who have died or been removed from their families. The focal point of the garden design is the Hospital apology plaque to Aboriginal families.

From the late 1800’s up until 1972, the Australian government had a policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families under the auspice of the Aboriginal (Child) Protection Act. This policy has had devastating consequences for generations of Aboriginal people. In 2003, the Chief Executive Officer, Prof Kim Oates, released the Hospital’s apology to Aboriginal families, acknowledging the role it played in discharging some Aboriginal children to other government agencies rather than to their families.

'The Hospital acknowledges that, in the days when The Children’s Hospital was at Camperdown, Aboriginal children who were admitted to the Hospital may have been discharged to the care of government agencies which may not have returned those children to their families. The Hospital acknowledges the hurt and damage this would have caused Aboriginal children and their families and sincerely apologises for any part it may have inadvertently played in the removal of Aboriginal children.'

This apology was accepted by Dennis Dunn from the Wiradjuri clan on behalf of the Daruk People.

“I myself, Dennis Dunn from the Wairaduri clan on behalf of the Daruk people and my many brothers and sisters of other tribal clans of Australia and those that have gone who were a part of the stolen generation, accept the acknowledgement of ‘SORRY’; from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Although the wounds are deep and will take a lifetime to heal, to hear the word ‘sorry’ is the first step to reconciliation that will build a better future for our younger generations to come…”

A rock was been donated to the garden by Aunty Edna, a Daruk elder. This acknowledges that the Hospital at its current location at Westmead is built on Daruk land.

Bronwyn Bancroft, Aboriginal artist, assisted in the design concept of the garden. The totem poles and seven circles represent Australia’s states and territories and the Aboriginal communities within. The circle of hand-made tiles, designed by Aboriginal children and their families under the guidance of artist Elizabeth Ronney and Rita Williams, honours their stories.