A program focused on Aboriginal women’s healing, empowerment and leadership at Perth Children’s Hospital has unveiled artworks by its participants.

The program is known in Noongar language as “Djookana Dandjoo Walbrininy Ngala Maat-bidi Yaanginy” and translates to “Sisters Together Healing Sharing our Journey.”

Delivered at the hospital by the Aboriginal Health Team and Sister Kate’s Home Kids Aboriginal Corporations, the program is a product of partnership between Sodexo, a world leader in Quality of Life services, and Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation (PCHF).

Run weekly, the program began in April 2019 and has positively impacted around 40 Aboriginal Health Team clients and staff members with its holistic approach, with 17 participants having their artwork exhibited in November.

Sessions include traditional Indigenous cultural healing methods, and art and wildflower essence therapy, all while supporting the social wellbeing of Aboriginal mothers and caregivers.

PCHF Chief Executive Officer, Carrick Robinson, said Sodexo’s support has led to better health outcomes for Aboriginal women and children coming into the hospital.

“The artwork produced by the women in the program demonstrated their journey and finishing the work has provided them with a sense of accomplishment, knowing they can achieve what they set their mind to,” Robinson said.

“We are grateful for Sodexo’s support and look forward to continuing our long-term partnership.”

Sodexo Australia CFO and Country President, Mark Chalmers, noted the program’s success.

“The program is really aimed to support the healing of at-risk, or socially isolated Aboriginal mothers through culture-based initiatives.”

“The Aboriginal Health Team have feedback that in terms of success, it’s been all about including participants and helping them forge connections with other mothers, which has helped reduce that social isolation, connecting them with culture and having time away, and support with their children as well,” Chalmers said.

“It’s all socially and culturally interactive and a safe place to come to. We see that as being very positive and they can have a little bit of fun along the way!”

The program stemmed from Sodexo’s support of the pilot program in 2018 which saw education and training delivered to 15 front-line Aboriginal health workers to support at-risk or vulnerable Aboriginal mothers through education and leadership.

Sodexo has supported many initiatives with PCHF during their decade-long relationship.

The company has helped fundraise over $535,000, including the PCHF’s Ruggies Recycling initiative which aims to improve waste management across mine sites in Western Australia by improving recycling practices.

“It is one of the many initiatives that we have supported in about a 10-year partnership with the Children’s Hospital Foundation; where we supported the funding of research, research equipment, education and training,” Chalmers said.

Sodexo launched their fifth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and second at the Elevate level in March 2019.

“To us, it ties in very closely to our commitments under our Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan,” Chalmers said.

“We will continue our support for the foundation and its programs as we have for the last ten years and we will continue to focus on support this area.”

By Rachael Knowles