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29 May 2019

Reconciliation Week at Austin Health has seen numerous local Elders visit to share their stories, experiences and wisdom - and everyone from medical students to executives have contributed to the week's activities.

Local Wurundjeri Elder and born storyteller Uncle Ian Hunter got the week started in the Child Care Centre on Monday, entertaining and educating the kinder kids with his own family history - which he was able to recount right back to a little Aboriginal girl who saw some ships appearing on the horizon (his great-great grandmother) and a little white boy arriving on one of the ships (his great-great grandfather). The storytelling involved both bagpipe and didgeridoo playing as Uncle Ian gave the kids a primer on our shared history.

As a Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Ian was also able to conduct a traditional Welcome to Country, and told the children some Dreamtime stories.

On Tuesday, local artist and Yamatji and Noongar Elder Aunty Sharon Hughes had staff, students and volunteers at Austin Health painting a banner in Woi wurrung: Ngulu. Ngol. Ngargunin twarn. Mem-badool Djerring. The words mean ‘Voice. Treaty (pledge/oath). Truth (lore). Let's work together.' - the 2019 NAIDOC Week theme.

The banner will be on display at Austin Health - most likely in the level 3 corridor that leads into the ONJ Centre from the Lance Townsend Building - before being carried by the Austin Health contingent at the NAIDOC March on July 5.

The workshop was organised by ONJ Centre art therapist, Fiona Scottney, and attracted artistic contributors who ranged from students to executives.

Aunty Sharon says that the increasing focus on "reconciliation being something we do together gives me hope. In the past we've been so separate."

"There have always been people who've listened to us, but now there are so many more people listening. It's really good," she says.

Aboriginal staff member Josie Quinlan says that she is glad she works for an organisation that recognises National Reconciliation Week.

"It provides that bit of extra support that some other workplaces wouldn't provide, and it raises awareness of reconciliation as well," says the Ngemba woman and allied health assistant (AHA).

"I hope that launching a will bring a stronger acceptance and understanding of some people's situations," Josie says.

"It's awesome here. My supervisor here, Cath, is amazing. She's been particularly supportive and really interested - even asking me about Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, and what events would be appropriate for her to attend," Josie says.

National Reconciliation Week is a national campaign that celebrates and builds on respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. To find out more about Reconciliation Week at Austin Health, visit the Hub.

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Austin Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
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