The Orange Hospital community celebrated the culture and history of Australia’s First Nations people at a special event on Thursday 4 November, in line with this year’s NAIDOC theme ‘Heal Country’.
The ‘Heal Country’ theme calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, maintain and embrace all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, heritage and knowledge.
Catherine Nowlan, Orange Health Service General Manager, said, “As a health care community we are committed to making meaningful gains in Aboriginal health.
“As healthcare professionals we need to understand the importance of both physical and spiritual well-being for the Aboriginal people we serve.
“This includes recognising and understanding their significant connection to Country. In doing so we see the connection between the theme ‘Heal Country’ and holistic health care for Australia’s First Nations people.”
Ms Nowlen said staff and attendees were encouraged to pay their respects to First Nations culture and history, and recognise their own connection to Country as well.
“Following the ceremony, our MC for the morning Renee Gaidzionis invited everyone to place a footprint on the map of Australia that illustrates the 250 First Nations tribes. The map is displayed in the Hospital to for everyone to acknowledge their connection to the land,” she said.
“We invited First Nations people to place their footprint on the Country they are connected to, and we invited non-Indigenous people to place their footprint where they feel they have connections to Country.
“NAIDOC Week celebrations began on Friday 29 October and run through until Saturday 6 November, and have started conversations between staff, patients and the community to share stories and culture.
“We celebrate our Indigenous staff, patients and community every day of every year, but NAIDOC Week is a wonderful opportunity for us to continue supporting our First Nations people and to celebrate their history, culture and achievements.
Thursday’s ceremony also included Welcome to Country by Wiradjuri Elder Uncle Neil Ingram, a Smoking Ceremony by Ian Sutherland, raising of the flags, a horticulture discussion with Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Alice Williams and a poem by Ernest Smith.