Continuing our steps towards reconciliation

Reconciliation is more than a word. It is a term that requires meaningful action to make a positive change – something that is important not just during National Reconciliation Week, but all year round.

The responsibility for taking action lies with all of us and is a goal the Network is continually striving towards to ensure a better future for Aboriginal patients, families, staff and communities.

In the last year the Network has taken significant steps towards reconciliation, undertaking a number of new projects and initiatives to help towards the process of healing.

Most recently, the Network committed to updating its official Apology Statement from 2007 to reflect the role that the hospitals did play in the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the legacy of trauma and grief this caused.

“This is a massive achievement for all concerned and is a true example of the spirit of reconciliation,” Mick Scarcella, Aboriginal Health Management Advisor, said.

“The change in wording is slight but to properly heal is to know the truth and having an apology that truly acknowledges the events of the past makes an enormous difference to our Aboriginal families and communities.”

The new apology will be officially presented at the Network’s Reconciliation Week “Healing and Education” event next week, on the 2nd June. The Apology will then be permanently hung in the public foyers at both The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

Other initiatives and projects helping to drive change across the Network include; establishing a dedicated Aboriginal Health Unit, which aims to improve experiences, access and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families; building our Aboriginal workforce; strengthening support for Aboriginal patients, families and communities to ensure they feel welcome, safe and respected when coming to hospital; implementing an Aboriginal Staff Support Network to provide support with the recruitment, retention and professional development of Aboriginal staff; and upgrading the Aboriginal Children’s Memorial Garden to create a culturally safe place where people can gather.

“As child health advocates, we want to ensure we are always providing services that are culturally responsive and inclusive for all of the patients we see and that means ensuring that we respect, collaborate and listen to our Aboriginal families and communities,” Christie Breen, Network Clinical Program Director, Priority Populations, said.

“Understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s culture and histories is vital in our work towards reconciliation and plays an instrumental role in our ability to influence positive change.”

This National Reconciliation Week, as we acknowledge the events of the past, and celebrate the progress that has been made, we also recognise the work that still needs to be done.

“As a Network, we are proud of how far we have come but we also know that there is still a long way to go,” Christie said.

“Strengthening the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community relies on reconciliation living at the front of everyone’s hearts and minds and we are committed to ensuring that happens, both now and in the future.”

National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May – 3 June to commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

#MoreThanAWord  #NRW2021