Grafton NAIDOC celebrations are a small steps towards unity
SMALL steps go a long way in reconciling the past between Aborigines and non-indigenous people.
Another of those small steps was taken at the Grafton Base Hospital yesterday when the Aboriginal flag was raised next to the NSW State and Australian flags.
Grafton Base Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Carmel Monaghan said such ceremonies, along with the purchase of six artworks done by Aboriginal artists for the Emergency Department, made the hospital more inviting to the Clarence Valley indigenous population.
"It's great to have the hospital involved in NAIDOC celebrations," Ms Monaghan said.
"This involvement will make Aboriginal people feel more comfortable accessing the hospital for treatment.
"At the moment, some Aboriginal people leave early and not staying for the complete duration of their treatment."
Ms Monaghan said the gesture was about two cultures coming together.
As well as the flag-raising ceremony, the audience was treated to a welcome to country by Aunty Carol Wilson, a performance by the Bundjalung Dance Troupe and a morning tea.
Ms Monaghan also announced plans for a plaque recognising the original owners of the land and a mural depicting the stories of the Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr peoples.
Grafton Base Hospital executive officer Dan Madden said he was pleased to bring the community together at the hospital.
"This is a positive move towards closing the gap," Mr Madden said.
He also said it was important to show the community what they were doing for NAIDOC Week and how they were making it culturally inviting for Aboriginal people. "We have all got to do our bit. All journeys start with small steps."
Mr Madden said hospitals all over Australia were doing their own bit for NAIDOC Week.