National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week is about reflecting on the past, looking at ways to build a better future and taking meaningful action to make that happen. This year’s theme Be Brave. Make Change, recognises that we all have a role to play in making changes that will help achieve reconciliation.

In playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures and futures. At Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN), we want to ensure we provide services that are culturally responsive and inclusive for all of the patients we see.

“It’s important to work in partnership with Aboriginal families and communities to foster strong reciprocal relationships that are responsive to the individual needs of Aboriginal people and their communities,” says SCHN Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Manager Natasha Larter.

“Significant health inequities still exist in paediatric health care. A recent analysis of SCHN data revealed that Aboriginal children and young people accessing our hospitals and services are twice as likely to die while in our care, present to our ED in higher triage categories. In addition, they are more likely to require admission to ICU than non-Indigenous children and young people.

“Aboriginality is a significant factor in poorer health outcomes, however it is important to understand the multiple factors behind the severity on presentation, and redirect the focus to work with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations to change this. For example, we know that Aboriginal children and young people arrive sicker and often later, perhaps because of historical factors that make them fearful of going to health services."

"By working closely with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations, we better understand their social and cultural needs, and be sensitive to their concerns upon presentation to our services. We can provide appropriate support, a respectful service that instils trust in our clinicians and enable timely treatment that contributes to reducing Aboriginal mortality, unplanned representation and need for admission. Reconciliation plays an important part in a positive return in health and wellbeing outcomes across the life course for Aboriginal children and young people.”

SCHN has recently launched the Aboriginal Patient Experience Survey which will be used to identify the most culturally safe and appropriate ways to support Aboriginal patients and families through their healthcare journey. By capturing the voices of our Aboriginal patients and families, we can design a health care service that has considered the social, historical, political and economic context that is faced in the daily lives of our First Nations peoples.

“Collective experiences will enable departments to support better overall Aboriginal patient and family experience, build trust and positive relationships which contributes to SCHN’s ongoing commitment to improving Aboriginal health outcomes and equity."

“Reconciliation is everyone’s business, every day of the year- not just during Reconciliation Week. Seeing statistics of poor health outcomes and inequities in Aboriginal child mortality, which have not improved even with focused national efforts in health, makes me focused to drive and advocate for a strong commitment to reconciliation at SCHN.”

National Reconciliation Week, from 27 May to 3 June, commemorates two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision. Visit for more information.