‘We had a really great turnout’

By Holly Tregenza

MIST mixed with smoke last Tuesday morning in front of the Kyabram Fauna Park as Uncle Colin Walker and his son, Uncle Colin Junior, performed a smoking ceremony as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.

Kyabram District Health Service (KDHS) held the event to acknowledge Voice, Treaty and Truth — three of the key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and this year’s theme for NAIDOC Week.

Around 30 people braved the cold conditions to hear from Uncle Colin about the stories of his ancestors, the difficulties of Indigenous health and the pride he has in the rich Indigenous culture of the region.

A crowd of small children from the KCLC also joined in, which organisers said was a particularly nice sight.

‘‘We had a really great turnout and everything ran smoothly,’’ Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer Simone Guinan said. ‘‘It was great to see kids there, especially during their school holidays. It means that people are invested.’’

The celebration continued at KDHS, where Graeme Briggs played the didgeridoo and Indigenous dancers from across the Goulburn Valley performed.

Stanhope’s John Hancox brought along a number of his collected Indigenous artefacts.

MP Peter Walsh was there to be part of the event and said more needs to be done to close the gap.

‘‘It’s about improving health outcomes, education outcomes and life expectancy outcomes of our Indigenous community,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s about increasing our effort.’’

Ms Guinan said she was grateful to everyone who had participated.

KDHS first employed an Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer in 2016. Ms Guinan works to reduce cultural barriers to participation in health care for Indigenous people.