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An official Welcome to Country ceremony has recognised Rural Northwest Health as a supportive organisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Auntie Hazel McDonald presented the Welcome to Country to a crowd of Rural Northwest Health team members and supporters at the Warracknabeal campus. She was accompanied by her relative Yvonne Taylor and Wimmera PCP Koolin Balit project officer Felicity Johns.

Rural Northwest Health now displays Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags at all three campuses along with Australia’s flag. Rural Northwest Health executive Jo Martin heads the organisation’s diversity group.

Jo said a cultural diversity session at the Warracknabeal campus last year brought attention to the importance of making Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders feel welcome.

“Having the flags on display lets these communities know that they are welcome and supported when they visit any of our campuses,” Jo said.

“We are planning to take it even further by displaying a mural of Aboriginal art work in one of the passages,” she said.

“We are working with a local artist to settle on a design.”

Auntie Hazel spoke on the Aboriginal heritage in the region and the significance of such traditions as Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies. She also displayed a coat made from possum skins which mapped out the region’s Aboriginal tribes.

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