May 29, 2019

Voices of Reconciliation

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Tayla Andrews, Administrator (Student), Aboriginal Support Unit at Northern Health, says, “Being a proud young Gunditjmara and Yorta-Yorta Women, Reconciliation Week means bringing all Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian people together for peace and harmony.”

“To educate and raise awareness of Aboriginal Australia’s true history, and provide further development, to achieve a better future for all.”

Today, 80 percent of Australians believe it is important to undertake formal truth telling processes, according to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.

National Reconciliation Week is held between two significant milestones in Australia’s history, 27 May and 3 June.

May is the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which more than 90 percent of Australians voted ‘Yes’ to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

3 June marks the historic 1992 Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia recognised native title – the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights over their lands did survive British colonisation.

Toni Gabelish works as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer for Northern Health. Her day starts with checking the daily inpatient report, indicating where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are in the hospital. This allows her to plan her patient visits, both here and at the other sub-acute sites. Toni also carries a pager for new patient referrals from all wards including Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.

In between patient contacts and meetings, she keeps her focus on providing culturally safe, social and emotional care, which often includes repeat visits to her patients. This includes encouraging patients to stay in hospital to complete their medical treatment as well as supporting patients to attend outpatient clinics.

We asked Toni what Reconciliation Week means to her. Here’s what she says:

“Reconciliation means bringing all people together peacefully; irrelevant of race, religion and colour, and making the effort to realise we aren’t that different to one another and that we could actually all learn a lot from each other. Respect.”

Northern Health recognises the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Diversity in their cultures, traditional and contemporary ways, lifestyles, geographic location and status.

We also support the model of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health with coordination and collaboration between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and Northern Health.

Northern Health is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through ensuring equity in access to high quality, culturally sensitive health services.