Moree Hospital pays tribute to influential women at NAIDOC Week celebration

Moree and District Health Service has jumped on the NAIDOC Week bandwagon, after the local health service hosted its own celebration on Tuesday.

“The Moree Hospital’s Aboriginal Staff Peer Support Group has helped to celebrate local NAIDOC activities for 2018,” Aboriginal Health worker Paul Duncan said.

More than 50 people joined in the NAIDOC celebration, which comprised of a flag raising ceremony, free health-check checkpoints and a morning tea and barbecue to boot. A display of influential women was also set up at the Lizzy Doolan room, to tie in with this year’s NAIDOC theme, “Because of her, we can.”

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“This year’s theme pays tribute and acknowledges Aboriginal women who have made special contributions to their local community and abroad,” Aboriginal Health worker Rod Tighe said.

“It is very fitting for the many proud Aboriginal women of our past, present and future who have influenced and continue to help showcase our local Aboriginal history and culture.”

Women’s Refuge support worker Aunty Marlene Howard delivered the called for a united front among Aboriginal women during the “Welcome to Country.”

“Living in Moree I have seen a lot of changes, but I see that we still have a long way to go,” she said.

“Our young people are our future leaders of the community. Both the young and old can help in the strengthening of this country.”

Aboriginal Health coordinator and guest-speaker Candice Dahlstrom echoed the sentiment.

“Women, let’s be heard. This week, I’ve been thinking about women in my past, present and who will be there in the future,” she said.

She said strength could be found in all corners of the community, from the public to the private sphere.

“My mum Val Dahlstrom did a lot in the community, but the other thing is that Val is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

“Her grandchildren won’t remember her for her union fights. They’ll remember sitting on her lap, eating ice cream and Mentos— hopefully not at the same time,” she laughed.

Pius X CEO Donna Taylor was charged to raise the Aboriginal flag and joined Ms Dahlstrom and Ms Howard as the trio received gifts in recognition of their contributions to the community.

“It is an absolute honour and privilege being recognised today,” Ms Howard said.

Ms Dahlstrom added, “Our work really does make a difference to somebody’s life. You help one family, and you help another.”

Aboriginal Family Wellbeing’s Denise Haines praised the women.

“We have had many Aboriginal people in our community who have worked in our health service. This year, we honour those women from all areas of our community,” 

Former health workers and Aboriginal Liaison officers Stella Duncan, Audrey Duncan and Evelyn Tighe were also honoured on the day, however neither lady could be present due to different reasons.

“We have had some staff who have been with us for a long time. We would like to acknowledge these three women who have made a really big contribution to our health service over the years,” Ms Haines said.

Stella was recognised for her abundance of energy and “wicked sense of humour” on top of her work effort; Audrey for excelling in the practical aspects as she provided services throughout Moree and Narrabri; and Ms Tighe for her wealth of experience.

A special thanks was handed down to the Moree Health Aboriginal Staff Peer Support Group committee members who helped with preparations. A nod was also given to the local community for their help in celebrating NAIDOC 2018.

Mehi Sector general manager David Quirk said the staff and the hospital’s services were astounding.

He praised the broad range of services available to the Aboriginal community, like the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Service and Outreach Anti-natal Maternity services.

“There are some terrific leaders in the Aboriginal female staff and health workers and education officers. They play a big role in the community.”