Strengthening cultural connections at Lismore Base Hospital Women’s Care Unit.
Aboriginal women and their families who come to the Lismore Base Hospital (LBH) Women’s Care Unit will be better connected to culture and Country, thanks to a suite of artworks now in place throughout the Unit.
The artworks are part of the ‘My place is your place’ project, a collaboration between the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service (AMIHS), Lismore Base Hospital and Arts Northern Rivers to improve the cultural inclusiveness and safety of the Women’s Care Unit.
Carmel Kapeen, Tahlia Brice and Doreen Kelly.
We worked together with local Aboriginal communities and artists to create a culturally inclusive safe place that represents place, birthing and connections for women to birth their babies surrounded by family,” Tahlia Brice, Aboriginal Health Worker, AMIHS, said.
“This initiative is an important step in supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal women in pregnancy and birth, which we know can contribute to reducing the risk of perinatal anxiety, which can have lasting effects on a woman and her baby.”
Ms Brice said the project empowered women and their families, thanks to the strong connections between health, the arts and Aboriginal communities. “The coming together of our beautiful local artists brings a deep connection to our traditional Elders, mothers, aunties and sisters who have birthed on this beautiful country for thousands of years. This provides me with a feeling of culturally safety and connection to Country, for when it is my turn to birth my own babies."
The project was developed through community consultation with Bundjalung, Githabul, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr people, and through partnersThe ‘My place is your place’ initiative was both the overall winner of the NNSWLHD 2021 Quality Awards and the category winner for Excellence in Aboriginal Healthcare.hip with Arts Northern Rivers to commission works by six female Bundjalung and Githabul artists and one artist’s collective. The artworks run the full length of the Women’s Care Unit corridor, and feature in each of the five birthing rooms, as well as a separate culturally safe room for families.
Aboriginal language names have been included, alongside their English translations. The Women’s Care Unit is called ‘Nyee Gumaa Merang Maa’ which means Women’s Caring Place.
“The artwork gives me greater pride and connectedness to my land and culture, and as an Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal Health Worker,” Carmel Kapeen, Aboriginal Health Worker, AMIHS, said.
“New mums have reported to me that they feel comfortable seeing the beautiful artworks in the Unit.”
Kylie Caldwell, Indigenous Arts Officer, Arts Northern Rivers acknowledged the local connections which are crucial to the success of the initiative. “Each piece of art tells a story. The artworks represent place, birthing and connections to family and Country. The artworks share the story with each of us – allowing us to absorb the beauty and to offer opportunity for understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture and community,” Kylie said.
The ‘My place is your place’ initiative was both the overall winner of the NNSWLHD 2021 Quality Awards and the category winner for Excellence in Aboriginal Healthcare.
Photo above: Entrance corridor - artist Amarina Toby
Photo above: Corridor artwork - Sylvia Khan
Entrance | Amarina Toby – Bundjalung and Gaangalu Artist
Corridor | Sylvia Khan – Bandjalang Artist
Cherie Leon – Nyangbul Artist
Bev Garces – Githabul and Bundjalung Artist
Saltwater Women - Nyangbul Collective
Rebecca King – Widjabul Wia-bul Artist
Deb Taylor – Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr Artist
Waiting Room and Family Room – Curator
Mel Ladkin – Curator, utilising Aboriginal artworks acquired through past programs or gifted to the Women’s Care Unit, such as artworks from various Aboriginal artists, including Francis Belle-Parker and Michael Philp.
Image Birth suite artwork by Deb Taylor - courtesy of Arts Northern Rivers
All other images - courtesy of Northern NSW Local Health District