|The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised for the first time at The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Royal Park campus in a moving ceremony during NAIDOC week.
The ceremony was part of the hospital’s NAIDOC Week celebrations, and marked a major milestone in the history of the organisation, which has only ever flown the Union Jack or Australian flag in its 164-year history.
The Melbourne Health Chief Executive, which incorporates The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Dr Gareth Goodier said, “From today, all three flags representing all Australians will fly at The Royal Melbourne.”
At the ceremony held on 5 July, Dr Goodier acknowledged the struggle Indigenous Australians faced 40 years ago at the creation of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, and the struggle they continue to face for equality in employment, education and health.
He took the occasion to sign the Statement of Intent with the Department of Health which commits Melbourne Health to closing the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Talking about the importance of closing the health gap, Dr Goodier emphasised it was a whole-of-organisation responsibility.
“All 8,000 of us within Melbourne Health need to commit to improving our care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The flags will remind all of our staff that we are here to serve our community - regardless of race, faith, gender or political persuasion,” he said.
He added that appropriate health care for Indigenous communities included embracing the emotional and spiritual aspects of care and healing and he committed to strengthening the relationship between Melbourne Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“I hope that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and visitors come to this Campus, and see their flags flying, they feel that this is their hospital.”
Aunty Diane Kerr (Wurundjeri Elder), Terori Hareko-Samios (Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Women’s Health Business Unit, the Royal Women’s Hospital) and Dr Tony Snell (Director, Medicine and Community Care, RMH)
raise the flags.