THE long connection between the Sisters of St John of God and indigenous communities was celebrated as representatives of both came together yesterday.
St John of God Warrnambool Hospital continued its tradition of supporting local Aboriginal communities, unveiling a specially-crafted stone in a flag-raising ceremony as part of NAIDOC Week.
Warrnambool Aboriginal elder Rob Lowe carved the stone to signify the links between the hospital and indigenous people, recognising the efforts of eight Sisters of St John of God who came to Australia from Ireland in 1895 to care for people stricken by typhoid during the gold rush.
John Parkinson, the hospital's community services and mental health manager, said the Aboriginal flag would now fly alongside the Australian flag at the hospital, with the new symbolic stone on display in the main courtyard.
"It is a way of paying our respects to the local indigenous community and recognising St John of God's long history of supporting Aboriginal people," Mr Parkinson said.
"It signifies the close ongoing relationship we have with our local indigenous communities.
"Working with indigenous communities is a strong part of St John of God's history."
Mr Parkinson said the hospital's social outreach and advocacy Mental Health Service would continue forging relationships for effective outcomes in the Aboriginal community, with a particular focus on individual emotional wellbeing.
"We are extremely fortunate to be able to operate in a very eclectic style of intervention that allows the team to be flexible in its service delivery ," Mr Parkinson said.
Hospital caregivers Ros O'Toole, Paddy O'Connor and Kate Morrissy organised the ceremony as a mission mentoring project, giving staff a greater understanding of St John of God Healthcare's mission, history and values.