In an informal morning ceremony, The University of Notre Dame Australia School of Medicine in Fremantle unveiled Aboriginal signage throughout the building featuring Nyungar wording in a historic step towards further reconciliation.
Nyungar Elder Marie Taylor, who said it was “fantastic to see the most ancient Aboriginal people in the world being honoured” wrote the statement on the entrance to the School of Medicine.
“When we see Nyungar language written around the University, it’s absolutely mind-blowing,” Marie said.
Marie also paid her respects to the medical profession and all those who have been doing their part in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, saying doctors and nurses had “the hardest job in the world”.
We’ve got health professionals standing up for our country, a Premier standing up for our state, and we’ve got people like all of you gathered here today standing up for our community, thank you everybody.
While it is Marie’s words that will be displayed on the entrance to the building, the School of Medicine has also added a commitment statement on the windows of the Roy & Amy Galvin Medical Library. Dean of Medicine Professor Gervase Chaney said it was a significant moment and expressed his wish for the words to become actions.
“Just as the words outside are very much Marie and the Elder’s words of welcome, these are our words we have to own and live to,” Professor Chaney said, “and I think that's really the significant thing for us. I think we've developed a great commitment statement.
“It will be interesting to see whether in five years’ time the words still ring true, but even more important, in five years’ time have we shown the commitment that we've stated on the window here?
It’s all very well to write the words, it's another thing to put those words into practice, and I think that's going to be the task in front of us, and one that we should welcome and feel positive we can rise to.
Associate Dean of Aboriginal Health Professor David Paul added his appreciation of the commitment.
“I came here about seven years ago, and it was one of the better moves I've done in my life,” Professor Paul said, “Moving here to a place that honours the land on which we work, the land on which we share, and the people who we partner with, it's a meaningful partnership that we have with local community.”
Support to include Nyungar wording around the School of Medicine came from staff and students alike, and fourth year medicine student Breanna Hollow thanked everyone who had made it possible on behalf of the students.
“On the behalf of the students, we like to thank the school for recognizing this important part of our community and the communities we hope to serve. We recognise the contribution of Aboriginal students and Aboriginal doctors, and I think it's very important for all of us that we have statements like this in the Library and throughout the schools. Thank you very much Professor Chaney and the Aboriginal Health Team.”
The full wording of both the welcome message at the entrance of the building, and the commitment statement at the Library can be read below.
Wanju Wadjuk Walyalup Nyunagr Waardan Boordjar Nitja koort marr nain kaadditj wer nih katitjen.
Welcome to the ancient people’s land of the Wadjuk Nyungar people by the sea, where eagles fly, where hearts, hands and ears listen and know, while learning.
The School of Medicine, Fremantle recognises the centrality and importance Aboriginal people and their communities, cultures, languages, diversities and histories.
The School is proud to be located in Walyalup (Fremantle), on Wadjuk Nyungar Boodjar (land).
We are committed to graduate medical practitioners who will work effectively alongside and in partnership with Aboriginal peoples, their families and communities to improve health and wellbeing and to achieve equitable health outcomes.
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