Journey to reconciliation begins at the Women’s
The Royal Women’s Hospital has launched its Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.
Local Aboriginal Elders, hospital staff and Board Directors, and past patients of the Women’s attended a launch event at the Women’s yesterday [27 February].
Boonwurrung Elder Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir provided a welcome to country and Gunai Gunditjmara woman Monica McDonald performed a powerful poetry reading and song for the event.
The Women’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sue Matthews, acknowledged the hospital’s history in her address, saying: “The Women’s commitment to reconciliation is all the more important given our hospital’s past policies and practices and our role in the Stolen Generations, which saw the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies from their mothers.
“It is with sincere regret that we apologise for the continued trauma, loss and grief we have caused Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, their families, kinship and communities, as we ensure that the wrongs of the past are never repeated.”
Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, Michelle Isles, and Aunty Fay both reflected on their connections to the Women’s, acknowledging the past and the path forward.
“The Women’s has a significant and direct opportunity to impact the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families,” Ms Isles said.
“I feel really confident and excited about what you’re going to achieve together. This 12 months really will be a step not only for your organisation but for other organisations like you to achieve genuine equity, respect and positive outcomes.”
The Women’s Chief Operating Officer, Lisa Lynch, said the actions and deliverables in the RAP would “touch every corner of the Women’s” – from the creation of culturally welcoming spaces, the co-designing of services and models of care, employment and procurement opportunities, and cultural learning programs.
“We are committed and passionate to understand more, to do more, and to formalise our commitment not just to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and families including our staff – but to a just, equitable and reconciled Australia,” she said.
The development of the RAP was led by a Reconciliation Working Group, made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, staff whose partners or children are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. The group consulted widely with stakeholders, consumers and other staff. The Women’s would like to also acknowledge and thank Aunty Lorraine Parsons, Dr Vicki Couzens and Aunty Carolyn Briggs for providing cultural advice and guidance.