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Acknowledging the important role of Elders in our community

NAIDOC Week is being held across Australia from Sunday 2 July to Sunday 9 July 2023, celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

This year's theme is For Our Elders who have played, and continue to play, an important role and hold a prominent place in our communities and families. They are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors and leaders. 

This NAIDOC week, HI celebrates the important role local Elders play in the planning and design of our hospital projects across NSW, by giving their time, wisdom and guidance to help create healthcare facilities that meet the needs of the local communities now and into the future. 

Projects like Tweed Valley Hospital Development are where local Elders and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Working Group are making invaluable contributions to a range of initiatives including the project’s Arts in Health Strategy and cultural and language translations on signage to ensure the new hospital is a welcoming and safe place for people of all cultures. The project team also worked closely with the local South Sea Islander community on the preservation and relocation of heritage significant dry-stone walls discovered onsite.  

At New Shellharbour Hospital, collaboration with local Elders has led to the design of the five buildings at the new hospital being informed by the Five Islands Aboriginal Creation Story, which is a deeply significant story for the local Aboriginal community. The next stages of design will consider the use of Five Islands plants as interior wayfinding and colour schemes. 

At Eurobodalla Regional Hospital Development a ceremonial land cleansing was held on the new hospital site, as part of an ancient Aboriginal tradition used to regenerate Country and prepare the land as a safe and welcoming place. Led by Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders on Yuin Country, the event included a traditional smoking ceremony and cultural burn, the first to be carried out on a NSW hospital project site.   

Local Elders and knowledge holders are helping the project team ensure the local Aboriginal history and wisdom is incorporated into the Eurobodalla Regional Hospital by co-designing the hospital to support cultural integration, including Dhurga language signs to assist wayfinding and the creation of a Meeting Place.  

Traditional land owners, Elders, Local Aboriginal Land Councils and local community groups also shared their knowledge to assist the excavation of around 600 Aboriginal artefacts uncovered during archaeological investigations on the site.  

We thank and celebrate local Elders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for sharing their knowledge and cultural history with us to create safe and welcoming healthcare facilities for people of all cultures.

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