NAIDOC Week celebrates Indigenous yorga

A close up photograph of two female Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer
Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers Peta Ugle and Lorraine Woods
July 10, 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have fought – and continue to fight – for justice, equal rights and rights to country, access to education, employment and health.

The theme for NAIDOC Week (8-15 July) this year, ‘Because of her, we can’, celebrates the strength of ‘yorga’ (women) and acknowledges their significance as leaders, storytellers and members of the community.

On this theme, we asked some of our Aboriginal colleagues across South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) to share their thoughts on the women who have influenced them during their lives and careers.

For Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer (AHLO) Lisa Kerley, she will always be grateful to her mother and older sisters for looking after her and passing down their wisdom and knowledge.

“It’s about celebrating our elders, the women in the present and those who have gone before us,” Lisa said.

“We look up to our grandmothers, mothers and sisters for their strong inherent resilience.”

“As women we support and learn from each other and pass down our culture, language and stories to our children and their children.”

Rockingham General Hospital AHLO Lorraine Woods said the theme highlighted the resilience and strength of her grandmother.

“Through my grandmother’s guidance, she showed me how to live, love and have belief in the future,” Lorraine said

“Because of her I am the strong woman I am today.”

SMHS Aboriginal Health Strategy Senior Program Officer Sharon Clews reflected on what the theme means to her.

“When I think about strong Aboriginal women, I think about my family and my first manager Lisa Briggs,” Sharon said.

“I met Lisa about 15 years ago, she took me under her wing both personally and professional.  She is very switched on and knowledgeable about Aboriginal health, and taught me everything I know.”

“She inspired me to make a difference and help facilitate quality health care for Aboriginal people.  I don’t want to be talking about the same Aboriginal health issues 15 years from now.”

Sharon said that NAIDOC Week was an opportunity to celebrate their culture, language, music and art.

During July, SMHS will celebrate NAIDOC week across our hospitals through a number of events and activities.