WEST GIPPSLAND // KURNAI elders expect a new plaque at the West Gippsland Hospital in Warragul will improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Above: Sandra Mullett, WGHG CEO Dan Wicks, Cheryl Drayton, Graham Morris, Troy Jennings, Bill Leahy, WGHG chair Jane Leslie and Brett Allsopp at the unveiling. Photo: William PJ Kulich.
First published in the 14 August 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen – all dates relative to then. Click here to read the full edition online.
The elders joined the West Gippsland Healthcare Group for the unveiling of the plaque acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land earlier this month as part of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Elder Cheryl Drayton told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen the plaque was a step in improving health outcomes for the Kurnai community.
“It tells the story that this hospital is a hospital that looks after Aboriginal people, and they can see it in the plaque so there’s not that fearful element of not being able to come into the hospital and not having some cultural safety around it,” Ms Drayton said.
“When community members come they can see the plaque they know it’s Aboriginal-friendly. I think today’s efforts were fantastic in that they did it in a way it will be there forever – when the new hospital comes it will be shifted over.”
The need for the hospital to better engage with Aboriginal people was noted in last year’s Six Generations Yarning Together report.
“The report highlighted the WGHG needed to do more about acknowledging community members, and part of the process of having cultural competency is showing that the plaque is a way of saying ‘we accept Aboriginal people,'” Ms Drayton said.
The simple action of displaying the plaque will have a real effect on Aboriginal people with chronic illnesses.
“When they come into hospital for chronic illnesses or high dependent areas of chronic disease, they will stay longer because they know the ethic of the hospital says it is safe,” Ms Drayton said.
“Hopefully seeing the sign people will say ‘yes, we can stay longer.’
“Men in particular tend to sign themselves out if they have really chronic disease.
“This plaque means they know the staff have been through a cross-cultural awareness process.”
The plaque was made by local Men’s Shed volunteers.
Get free email updates from the Baw Baw Citizen
Read more Baw Baw News