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National Reconciliation Week 2019

This week is a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories and cultures to work towards achieving reconciliation.

Reconciliation Week 2019: Grounded in Truth – Walk together with courage

National Reconciliation week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Calvary provides services and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as employment. As Calvary Aged and Community Care Services prepares to implement our Diversity and Inclusivity Framework, it has never been more important that we take every opportunity to further our understanding of our First People and strengthen our relationships with them.

Below we share the story of Margaret, our newly appointed Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer at the Calvary Mater Hospital.

Margaret Whitson

Margaret, a Kamilaroi woman whose family originally comes from Moree, Western New South Wales, is our newly appointed Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer at the Calvary Mater Hospital, in Newcastle. This significant appointment means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women of the Newcastle and Hunter region now have an Aboriginal person to support them when they are a patient at Calvary Mater Newcastle.

As part of her role, Margaret is responsible for providing advocacy, education, emotional, practical, social and welfare support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities, ensuring that referrals and linkages are made to appropriate community support programs, agencies and services.

National Reconciliation Week calls us to deepen the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader Australian community, and to work towards a more unified future where there is mutual understanding, appreciation and respect for each other.

A Calvary Story

On Friday 24 May, we were fortunate to have both Margaret Whitson and her sister, Leonie Garvey join our Volunteer Appreciation Event in Maitland where they shared stories about the importance that their land has in Aboriginal culture,  the significance (and extent) of family, and the special role that each member of that family plays at certain times.  We learned of the importance of identity and recognition, of stories that perpetuate one’s history, and the sacredness of accompaniment at death and the rituals following death.

And as we listened one could not help but notice the similarities between the traditions passed on to us by Mary Potter and the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary. The importance and value of each individual person and their identity, of listening to a person’s story with full attentiveness and appreciation, the focus on caring for and being with those at their end of life.

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