NAIDOC Week: Heal Country, heal our nation

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the connection to the land and their Country is inherent to their identity. This deep connection encompasses their lives in many ways – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally.

NAIDOC Week 2021 is an opportunity for all Australians to come together to celebrate the history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year particularly, NAIDOC Week’s theme of ‘Heal Country’ invites the wider community to learn and understand Country as part of Australia’s national heritage.

“NAIDOC week is about celebrating and embracing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture across the Network, it’s a time to come together and experience the richness and learn about ongoing cultural knowledge, wisdom and practices that has been around for more than 80,000 years,” said Sarina Solar, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network’s (SCHN) Aboriginal Health Unit Manager.

Due to the recent NSW COVID-19 lockdown, in-person NAIDOC workshops across SCHN were unfortunately cancelled however our patients and families were able to still participate in the celebrations through gifted craft packs and airing of Indigenous-themed content from our friends at Starlight Foundation

At SCHN, we continue to assess our work practices to ensure a culturally safe service provision is at the forefront of everything we do for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, their families and communities.

In the last year, the Network was the first government Health entity to publicly endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart and we continue to reflect on the important messages within the statement and consider the effect our practices will have on Aboriginal people.  

Aboriginal spaces across the Redevelopment projects

The Network’s Redevelopment projects are committed to celebrating the rich history, proud heritage and cultural connection to Country of local Aboriginal communities across Randwick and Westmead.

Throughout the last year, the Redevelopment teams have consulted on the design of the new front of house for both Randwick and Westmead projects with Aboriginal patients and families who use the hospital, La Perouse Aboriginal Lands Council, Parramatta City Council Aboriginal Advisory Group, key Gadigal and Bidjigal community members and Network Aboriginal staff and health workers.

The consultation has reinforced the importance of Aboriginal cultural recognition in hospitals in creating welcoming spaces. The engagement resulted in changes in the design that will be beneficial for Aboriginal children and their families.

In both new main entrances across the sites, there will be indoor and outdoor Aboriginal gathering spaces. The outside landscaped area will be a place where Aboriginal community members can come together in small or larger groups for ceremony and community connection. The indoor space will be a multi-purpose space, which can accommodate a larger gathering of people.

It will be a safe and welcoming environment for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, complemented with First Nations art and storytelling and home-like furnishings. Additionally, a dedicated space for an Aboriginal Health Worker will be co-located with the Aboriginal Gathering Place to provide a more direct connection to the care they receive.

NAIDOC Week runs from 4-11 July.

For more information including how to celebrate NAIDOC in a COVIDSafe way, head to the official NAIDOC Week website.

Join the conversation online using the official hashtags #NAIDOC2021, #NAIDOCWeek and #HealCountry.