Beaudesert Hospital staff are connecting with the community by showing off new shirts designed together with local Mununjali elders.
Nursing Director Matthew Quinn said the shirts were born out of a yarning session held at the hospital with Mununjali elders who shared what healthcare services and information they wanted to see.
Matt said the shirts were originally designed as a ‘Friday’ shirt, but due to their popularity would now become part of the hospital’s uniform. “Everywhere we go, people are coming to talk to us about the shirt, it’s a great conversation starter. This is helping Beaudesert Hospital be more visible, and sends the message that we are part of the Beaudesert community.”
Mununjali elder and Chair of the traditional Mununjali Elders Aboriginal Corporation Aunty Gerry Page said she was proud to be involved. “The hospital staff asked our permission to use the Totem, which means a lot,” Aunty Gerry said.
“Our Totem - the Wedgetail Eagle is very significant to Mununjali people. They represent the spirits of our ancestors; they are always around to protect us and let us know we are not alone.
“The Willy Wagtail is the messenger who brings good news and bad news and the Message Stick represents bringing a message and passing it on. Many years ago, there was no pen or paper to send messages, so a Message Stick was used. People would paint a symbol and pass it on to communicate with other people and tribes.”
Matt said for staff at the hospital the symbols also recognised greater and more effective communication between the hospital and the local Indigenous community. “We want our local Indigenous community to know that they are here with us and we are here for them,” he said.
Matt said regular discussions with Mununjali elders were now helping to inform planning for services into the future at Beaudesert Hospital. “Local Indigenous people weren’t coming to us for healthcare, but they are coming to us now," he said.
Aunty Gerry said “we have definitely made tracks; we have come a long way”.