Naidoc Week celebrations kicked off for Nhulunbuy

NAIDOC Week Nhulunbuy
Dr Sarah Chalmers and Gemma Porteous from Flinders NT with some of the Rirratjingu clan ladies, during the smoking ceremony

The very good people of the Rirratjingu Clan from North East Arnhem Land, on which the Flinders Clinical Education Training Facility stands in Nhulunbuy, conducted a smoking ceremony to kick off the July 2016 NAIDOC week celebrations in the region.

Senior members of the Rirratjingu Clan including Wityana Marika and Djalinda Yunupingu welcomed Flinders University respectfully to country and celebrated the training of young doctors and other health professionals by conducting a smoking ceremony.

The contribution made to the community by students and their supervisors is truly appreciated and this ceremony reinforced that belief. The region welcomes around twenty students per year from Flinders University and other Universities around the country. The Facility plays host to a large amount of health training which plays a big part in the upskilling of the Gove Peninsula health workforce.

The welcoming Rirratjingu group dispatched with bad energy and allowed good to flourish by encircling the building with traditional musical instruments, yidaki and clap sticks, ochre painted foreheads and a camp oven like kettle filled with smoking leaves, which they fanned and waved to disperse.

The ceremony took place under the watchful gaze and within the common unity of the General Manager for Top End Health Service, Lisa Pullen, fellow Indigenous health personnel, members of the Rirratjingu Clan, Dr Sarah Chalmers and Gemma Porteous from Flinders NT and Victoria Orpin from the Centre for Remote Health.

NAIDOC Week Nhulunbuy
Smoking Ceremony around the building with Yidaki and clap sticks in front, followed by the smoking kettle.

The smoking ceremony was a very special moment and moved Flinders NT Nhulunbuy one step closer to immersion and a place of understanding and acceptance within the broader community.

Many thanks to the members of the Top End Health Service, in particular, Lisa Pullen, Natalie Newman, Harold Koops and Boyan Yunupingu for their generosity and inclusion in this year’s celebrations.

Author: Gemma Porteous – Campus Administrator, Nhulunbuy

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Flinders NT Medical Program (NTMP)