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Hospitals 09 October 2018

Bendigo Hospital: Aboriginal support services

The new Bendigo Hospital has an Aboriginal Support area with culturally significant features including a possum skin cloak and a smoking pit for traditional ceremonies. 

The support area helps Aboriginal patients and their families feel culturally safe at the hospital, and signifies the importance the Aboriginal community has within the Bendigo and greater Loddon Mallee region.

Learn more about the Bendigo Hospital via our dedicated project page. 


[IMAGES: Dave Kerr, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer at Bendigo Health, is shown talking to the camera. Dave is wearing a dark brown polo shirt with an Aboriginal dot pattern.

'The new Bendigo Hospital features an Aboriginal Support area, which is off the main atrium, which is very different to what other hospitals have currently got.'

[IMAGES: Features of the Bendigo Hospital are shown, including wall mural depicting fish and wavy lines, a huge possum skin cloak painted with a bright pattern behind a pane of glass, a large mural of an eagle, and a plaque acknowledging the Dja Dja Wurrung people.]

'It's a space that is very visible, has a possum skin cloak in the main window, which is really important. We also have the mural of Bunjal or the eagle, which is significant for the Dja Dja Wurrung Clan. It’s their creator spirit.'

[IMAGES: We are shown a decked area with a rainbow serpent design marked on it, a large metal smoking pit, and a stone water feature.]

'Mindy’s head, which is the rainbow serpent, which is heavily designed through the configuration of, not only the outdoor area, but the markings on the deck, coming back into the internal space. We have a fire pit for smoking ceremonies, for significant events such as NAIDOC week.'

[IMAGES: The façade of the Bendigo Hospital is shown, with an aerial view of courtyards and trees.]

'We also have indigenous plants, which are planted throughout the garden and we also have a water feature, which is really important. There’s been an increase in Aboriginal people coming to the hospital and feeling safe to identify and we believe that part of the reason for that is the new space that’s enabled them to feel culturally safe.'

[IMAGES: Dave Kerr is shown talking to the camera.]

'The community involvement in the Aboriginal space has been via the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Corporation here, which were heavily involved in the process, including the designing of the courtyard and the garden and we’ve also had involvement from our previous two Aboriginal hospital liaison officers, who were involved in meeting with community and discussing their needs for the space for now and into the future.'

[IMAGES: We are shown a modern family area with a kitchenette, then a courtyard with timber benches and indigenous plants and a stylish pergola.]

'The Aboriginal space at Bendigo Health is really large and that’s important to be able to bring families. So, we quite often have large family groups who will come to the hospital when someone is unwell. Our culture is family and having everyone here when times are tough. Another great feature is the teleconference facilities that we have in there, which enables patients to teleconference back to, say, Swan Hill or Mildura, if their family aren’t able to come down and visit them.'

[IMAGES: The façade of the Bendigo Hospital is shown.]

'The new space has enabled us to raise the profile of Aboriginal Health in the region
and also go towards our commitment to closing the gap.'

[IMAGES: The screen fades to white and text appears which says: ‘Produced in partnership with Bendigo Health, Exemplar Health and Victoria State Government. Additional footage provided by NDY’. The next screen says: 'Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority, Victorian State Government, vhhsba.vic.gov.au'. The next screen says: 'Authorised by the Department of Health and Human Services 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Spoken by D. Kerr'.]

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Last updated: 09 October 2018