Acknowledging our First Nations communities is an integral part of The Royal Children’s Hospital’s (RCH) 150th anniversary. One of the centrepiece projects of the RCH150 program is Celebrate. Create. Connect: The RCH150 Aboriginal Art Project which will see two permanent artworks created by Indigenous artists installed at the RCH.
Made possible thanks to the generous support of Mr Ken Harrison AM KSJ and Mrs Jill Harrison OAM DSJ, the project focuses on promoting Indigenous artists, the importance of reconciliation and providing culturally safe spaces.
One of the artworks will be a four-storey mural hand painted on the façade of the hospital building facing Flemington Road, creating an impactful message to the community that our hospital is a welcoming place of inclusivity.
In bringing this project to the community, Pitjantjatjara muralist Elizabeth Close has been mentoring emerging Wurundjeri artist Samantha Roberts, ensuring the project is collaborative, educational and culturally representative of the land the hospital is located, Eastern Kulin land.
“It is a project I, as an Anangu Indigenous woman, am proud to be a part of”, says Elizabeth.
“Working through the time of COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone, however Samantha and I have learnt a new way of knowing and doing, which has given us the opportunity to spend valuable time together online in a more protracted sense.
“This special art piece signals to the wider community the importance placed on embedding Aboriginal perspectives within space activation; speaking more broadly to a commitment to inclusivity, and art that speaks to, and is reflective of, the community,” said Elizabeth.
Collaborating artist, Samantha Roberts believes that sharing Indigenous culture is so important because there is so little of it left.
“It’s vital that everyone has access to Aboriginal culture so that they can learn the unique history of this country, the people that lived on the land back then, the people that are still here today and all the things that we still do to connect to our culture,” said Samantha.
John Stanway, Chief Executive Officer of the RCH believes the landmark project will strengthen the connection between the RCH and First Nations patients and their families.
“The RCH is dedicated to ensuring Indigenous children and young people have equitable access to the best possible healthcare, regardless of where they live. It‘s important for all of us that Indigenous culture and identity is always acknowledged at the hospital and that we never lose sight of our pursuit to close the gap on healthcare equality,” said John.
As part of NAIDOC Week, Samantha has designed special drawings of animals in the language that has been passed down in her family for over 60,000 years, the Woiwurrung language of the Eastern Kulin Nation, so that the community can join the RCH in celebrating NAIDOC Week.
Download, colour in, take a photo and tag @rchmelbourne and @rch.foundation for your chance to feature during our NAIDOC Week celebrations.