Always was, always will be: celebrating NAIDOC Week 2020

NAIDOC Week 2020 was celebrated at a host of events throughout SESLHD with this year’s theme in mind: Always Was, Always Will Be, which speaks to the long history of Aboriginal cultures, over 65,000 years – the longest living cultures in the world. 

St George and Sutherland hospitals kicked off the week with flag raising and smoking ceremonies to recognise and acknowledge the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Children from the hospital’s child care centres, Lorikeet Early Learning Centre and Koala Child Care Centre, embraced the spirit of NAIDOC Week by creating Aboriginal-inspired artworks, which were displayed in both hospitals.

Coordinated by Samantha Gifford, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer, the Aboriginal Health Unit and the Diversity Health team, a range of virtual events and programs were put together so that everyone could get involved and learn more about Aboriginal culture and history.

Staff from Calvary, Garrawarra, St George and Sutherland hospitals were also encouraged to watch virtual events, including Aboriginal dance performances, a cooking demonstration, patient stories and cultural discussions. An internal quiz tested our knowledge of the Aboriginal meanings of surrounding suburb names and staff could vote for their favourite artwork, created by local Aboriginal artists, based on the theme Always Was, Always Will Be.

To cleanse the Randwick campus grounds ahead of NAIDOC celebrations, Prince of Wales Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Women joined other precinct partners for a smoking ceremony on Monday, 2 November, led by Uncle Dean Kelly. 

The hospitals also partnered to record a webinar – 'Being Aboriginal' – featuring stories from prominent Elders Aunty Lola Ryan and Aunty Alice Golding. SESLHD Aboriginal workers Kevin Heath, Sharon Brown and Darryl Gardiner also shared their stories on why culture and history matter when caring for Aboriginal patients. A resources list curated for NAIDOC 2020, featuring podcasts, websites, television shows, books and galleries was also made available to staff.
Staff from Prince of Wales Community Health took a creative approach, facilitating collaborative artworks by setting up canvases for painting and writing messages. The team also showed some short films and connected by playing Aboriginal music.

Uncle Dean Kelly also visited Sydney/Sydney Eye Hospital in the lead up to the week, conducting a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, assisted by Kevin. The ceremony was attended by about 30 socially-distanced members of staff, including Jennie Barry, General Manager; Dr Pauline Rumma, Director of Clinical Services and Alan Porritt, Director of Nursing, as well as special guests Tim Croft Jangari, Manager, SESLHD Aboriginal Health Unit and Linda Boney, Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer.

Smoking ceremony at St George Hospital