With blue skies and the weather on side, a large crowd gathered at the Port Augusta Hospital on Wednesday for one of NAIDOC Week’s fastest growing celebrations.
The Step Down Unit played host to an array of bright smiles during the Open Day, all ready to soak up the atmosphere.
The afternoon kicked off with a Cultural Dance by Dusty Feet Mob, followed by speeches and award presentations.
Amongst the crowd were specials guests including Country Health SA executive members, Aboriginal elders and ex Australia Rules Football legends.
AFL Alumni Troy Bond, Shane Bond and Peter Burgoyne made themselves available to take photos with adoring fans as Umeewarra Media sound-tracked the day.
Troy Bond addressed the crowd and paid homage to event organiser Glenise Coulthard.
“We just want to say thank you again for inviting us up, its been amazing to mix and mingle with the community again in such an important week for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Bond said.
“The theme this year is about strong women in our community and they do a marvellous job, of course Aunty Glenise is one of those ladies. She always looks after us when we come up here.”
As part of the NAIDOC Week theme ‘Because of Her, We Can’, a Tree of Life was set up on the hospital grounds.
Attendees were encouraged to write the name of an inspirational woman on a leaf and stick it to the tree.
Aboriginal Health Regional Manager Glenise Coulthard said the display was a chance for people to reflect on the strong women in their lives.
“We are acknowledging and honouring our influential women – both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people,” she said.
“That could be our staff, our community, our patients and our families.
“We don’t only celebrate on the one week, we celebrate all the time. We celebrate our elders, and our youth as well because they are our future.”
The tree will later be displayed in one of the hospital wards.
Ms Coulthard also took the opportunity to address the pressing issue of patients leaving against medical advice.
“We look at Aboriginal people who come into hospitals and leave before their treatment has finished,” she said.
“They might have a situation at home that they need to attend to and that’s fine, but we need to make sure if there’s anything from the systems viewpoint or from our viewpoint that we can do better then we do that.
“My belief is if we can get it right for Aboriginal people we will get it right for everybody.”