Bairnsdale Community Mental Health hosted an afternoon tea to mark the beginning of NAIDOC Week on Monday.
The event was organised by the new indigenous mental health trainee, Paula Andy. Paula is completing a traineeship with Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) and is part of the Bairnsdale Community Health team.
The traineeship is a partnership between LRH, the Department of Human Services and Charles Sturt University.
Paula says the traineeship aims to address issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in mental health services by developing a health care system that honours and recognises indigenous culture, spirituality, history and knowledge.
As an inaugural trainee in the role, it is important for Paula and all LRH staff to understand the importance of the initiative and the impact it can have on the mental health and wellbeing of the indigenous community.
Paula hopes by developing her own academic skills she will also provide awareness of issues to the non-indigenous members of the Bairnsdale team to enhance a better service availability.
Manager of the Bairnsdale Community Mental Health team, Kevin Healy, says it’s important that non-indigenous Australians recognise the truth of the impact colonization has had on the health and wellbeing of indigenous people.
That impact includes loss of identity, language, land and culture and the forced removal of children, namely the Stolen Generation, from family.
Mr Healy says these issues continue to influence the current health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.
PICTURED: Indigenous mental health trainee, Paula Andy, Aunty Dot Moffatt, who performed the Welcome to Country, and manager of the Bairnsdale Community Mental Health team, Kevin Healy, in front of a painting by indigenous artist, Victor Karpany, of Lakes Entrance.