2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum

St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) held its second Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander forum this year in October. This two-day event in Sydney included 58 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and 35 senior executives from across SVHA including Human Resource Managers and Mission Leaders along with two of our Elders from NSW attending the event. The first day was inspirational because it gave all staff the opportunity to meet and greet everyone who works within SVHA over a dinner which included a Welcome to Country by Aunty Fay Carroll and a performance by Transcendence Dancers.

Our dinner speaker was Dr Mark Wenitong, Senior Medical Advisor, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, a community-controlled Aboriginal health organisation responsible for delivering high quality, culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care to eleven Cape York communities. We also had a section entitled ‘On the Couch’ involving Toby Hall – Group CEO, SVHA, Sol Bellear – Chair, Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service and Bart Moye – General Manager, National Partnerships, HESTA (Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia).


Toby Hall, SVHA Group CEO, Sol Bellear, Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service Chair and Dr Mark Wenitong, Apunipima Cape York Health Council Senior Medical Advisor at the forum


This section highlighted the diversity between the organisations in how they approach reconciliation but also that how they address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health can be similar. The second day involved speakers sharing their stories, knowledge and insights about reconciliation activities across SVHA but also provided the opportunity for everyone to share their thoughts and reflect on what has happened over the last year.

Associate Professor Anthony Schembri, CEO, St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, spoke passionately about some of the achievements in its Aboriginal Health Unit and across the public hospital. Also, Karen Mundine, CEO, Reconciliation Australia, spoke highly of what SVHA is doing and the how we are achieving many of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) targets.

I think hosting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander forum was a great success because it allowed us as a group to showcase our achievements, accomplishments, successes, triumphs, stories and most importantly our journeys in engagement and employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As two participants stated:

“Overall the conference allows all Indigenous staff to connect, come together and celebrate what we do. It also allows us to comment and improve our (SVHA) vision.”

“Excellent forum – inspiring stories and recognition of the work being accomplished and the vision
for the future.”

Ms Violet Singh

HR Indigenous Programs Specialist, Shared Services, Private and Care Services Division, St Vincent’s Health Australia

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