Sunraysia Community Health Services (SCHS) marked NAIDOC Week on Wednesday with the official unveiling of their ‘Cultural Courtyard’.

The courtyard was the project of Aboriginal Health Promotion and Chronic Care Worker, Megan Kelly, who approached SCHS CEO Simone Heald in 2018 about having a space for Indigenous staff and community members to talk through their problems and meet their health and well-being goals.

Megan and the rest of SCHS were also supported strongly by the First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation, namely Peter Matsumoto.

The official opening also included a smoking ceremony, as well as a tree-planting event in which CEO Simone Heald, Megan Kelly, Peter Matsumoto, Mildura Mayor Jason Modica and Member for Mildura Ali Cupper all planted new trees in the courtyard.

“It was hard previously for Aboriginal workers and community members to come in and talk because we didn’t have much space, it was quite uncomfortable,” Megan said.

“To have a safe place for our mob to come, sit, chat and get their health and wellbeing goals met is great.
“I just love the outcome and to see it officially opening makes me really proud of everyone involved.”

The courtyard, which is part of SCHS’ cultural hub, features Indigenous art, a mosaic table, a water feature, and many native and edible plants.

“Healing country is the theme of NAIDOC this year and we thought we’d plant native and edible plants here to combine with that theme,” Megan said.

“There will be plants like bush bananas and bush oregano so eventually we will be able to get the benefit of the plants.
“The mosaic table is beautiful and a lot of Aboriginal kids who don’t have a mentor or who aren’t in school joined Elders in doing a lot of the art here.
“Having the water feature running too, similar to the Murray, it’s just really healing for us.”

SCHS CEO, Simone Heald said she had great admiration for Megan and what she was able to accomplish.

“Megan’s journey in establishing the cultural hub and courtyard has been sensational and she has remained committed to the project,” Ms Heald said.

“I would like to thank Megan and acknowledge that she is such a determined woman. I admire her for her intent to care for the Aboriginal people in our community.”