Last week, we celebrated National Reconciliation Week with a special event that included neighbouring organisations in our building. It was a chance for us to come together as a community to listen, learn, understand and further our journey towards reconciliation.
The theme for National Reconciliation Week this year was, More than a word. Reconciliation takes action, which urges us towards braver and more impactful action. We believe that the journey to Reconciliation is the responsibility of everyone in our community and we want to actively engage not only our organisation but our wider community, with learning opportunities to increase our understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
It was an honour to welcome a number of guest speakers at our event. Melissa Stubbings opened the day by leading the Welcome to Country and delivering a passionate speech imploring us all to acknowledge and embrace the ancestorial history of this land and its elders.
Aunty Ellie Chatfield, graciously shared her experiences as a member of the Stolen Generation. We were all moved as she took us through the concept of unknowing and how this filtered into her experiences as someone who has spent a large portion of her formulative years isolated from her culture and her family.
One of our own staff members, Maha Sedhom, shared her own personal experiences of Reconciliation as a non-Aboriginal person and how connecting to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture has been important to her as an Australian. Finally, Jessy McKinless shared his passion and knowledge of traditional cultural celebrations with us in a fun and engaging way.
These cultural experiences are important as they help guide us, along with our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, as we work collaboratively with local Aboriginal communities to design, develop and fund services that improve access to health and wellbeing services for Aboriginal peoples in our region.
To further understand the experiences and interaction of Aboriginal peoples within our region’s healthcare system, we commissioned the report: Mapping the Stories: Aboriginal Access to Services in the Nepean Blue Mountains Region. This report, details several recommendations that we have already begun to work on with our stakeholders and will continue to strive to make meaningful change along our journey towards Reconciliation.