National Reconciliation Week is held annually from May 27 – June 3 and is an important time to reflect on how each and every one of us can contribute to reconciliation in Australia.
Within health care, there is still a long way to go to close the health gap experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and eliminating the discrimination they experience both within and outside out health care systems.
You can read their responses below.
2011 recipient of Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme
Child and Family Health Nurse, NT Health
For me the theme Be Brave. Make Change means many things. Family, ancestors, culture, self-reflection, truth telling, letting go of fear and shame, finding the strength to call out unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, discrimination, racism, implicit bias, specifically in the health care system.
Challenge people’s world views, beliefs and biases and successively facilitate changes in the health sector and cultivate respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, families, visitors including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.
My goal is to advocate for change through professional development across the health department workforce. Promote changes to current essential training in both the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Program and Foundational Cross-Cultural Story from ‘once only’, to second yearly interactive, self-paced learning packages, with staff to initially complete within the first month of employment.
Share stories with colleagues face to face particularly ‘The Stolen Generation’(s) and my great grandmother aged 5 and her sister aged 7 years old being taken from their parents at Yeeda Station and transported to Beagle Bay Mission in Western Australia in the early nineteen hundreds.
Pictured: Debbie Smith. Supplied
Karita McCarthy MACN
2017-2019 recipient of Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme
Registered Nurse, Mediserve Nursing Agency
Be brave enough to know you can do anything if you just learn to believe in yourself. Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) is not easy, it is hard work, long hours, and commitment. But the biggest hurdle to overcome is knowing you can do anything you put your mind to.
I have only been a RN for two years and l have faced bullying, racism towards myself and patients but I believe being able to educate rather than becoming angry gets us a lot further in Nursing. We need to stand together with ACN, Indigenous & non-Indigenous to support our Puggy Hunter recipients to complete their degrees so that we can not only close the gap on Indigenous Health; but to also recruit more Indigenous Nurses to pursue their dreams.
I was able to complete my Nursing Degree because of Puggy Hunter 2017-2019 and am forever grateful for such an amazing scholarship.
Pictured: Karita McCarthy with her daughters Mikaela and Trinity. Supplied
2017-2020 recipient of Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme
Child Health Nurse, South Coast Babbingur Mia AHS
‘Be Brave. Make Change” to me means to be brave in taking actions and speaking up to help tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation. To make change that will provide a better future for all our children.
This will serve in the journey for our people and our culture to be included in the Australian constitution and to acknowledge the true history of our country, so our country can heal together and grow together.
As the Uluru Statement says “We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.”
Pictured: Jenna Councillor-Ryder. Supplied
2007-2008 recipient of Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme
Proud Wiradjuri woman
Facility Flow Manager, Western NSW Local Health District
My mum was brave. A proud Wiradjuri woman. In previous times, she was not “allowed” to be Aboriginal. Every day she fought for change as an Aboriginal Health Worker. She was proud of our culture and she taught me to be strong, to be an advocate and to do what is right by Aboriginal peoples.
We all have a role to play in reconciliation. Speaking of the past can be incredibly painful, but I firmly believe that Australia is ready and willing to partake meaningfully in reconciliation. By having open and honest conversations and respectfully challenging misinformation and ingrained behaviours, we can all contribute to reconciliation – especially in the health care setting.
Actions don’t have to be loud and profound; they can be as simple as assisting Aboriginal people to access healthcare. Be welcoming. Be understanding. Listen. These small actions will contribute to improved health outcomes for Aboriginal people.
It is time for truth telling. Whilst it isn’t always easy to be brave and make change, we are many voices with the same message, and it is time to be heard. It is time to BE BRAVE, speak up, demonstrate our worth in Health Services and the wider community and BE THE CHANGE in health care that so many have strived to achieve before us.
Pictured: Ashleigh Marsland wearing her Indigenous stole at her graduation from Charles Sturt University. Supplied