Aboriginal art trail helping to make Bunbury Hospital more welcoming

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Artist Troy Bennell, Aboriginal elder Dennis Jetta, Bunbury Aboriginal Mental Health Clinic coordinator Glenda Humphries and artist Charmaine Williams are proud of helping to make the hospital more welcoming.Picture: Stuart McGuckin
Camera IconArtist Troy Bennell, Aboriginal elder Dennis Jetta, Bunbury Aboriginal Mental Health Clinic coordinator Glenda Humphries and artist Charmaine Williams are proud of helping to make the hospital more welcoming.Picture: Stuart McGuckin

An Aborginal art trail has brightened up the corridors of Bunbury Hospital in an effort to make the environment more welcoming.

The art trail was launched on Thursday following the completion of 16 pieces of art by eight artists.

Bunbury Aboriginal Mental Health Clinic coordinator Glenda Humphries said it was an initiative driven by members of the community.

“That was something really important for us,” she said.

“Everything we do we go to our elders group for approval and endorsement.

“It made it a little bit more special that it involved our elders, our artists and other community members as well — it really was a great feeling for everyone to come together behind it.”

She said that there had already been plenty of positive feedback to the trail.

“It’s not only from the aboriginal community – that positive response has come from the wider community as well,” she said.

“We’ve had staff tell us how good it is to have this art in the passageways and buildings because they know there is a story behind it.

“We still have people pulling us aside to ask what the paintings mean so that’s been really awesome.”

WA Country Health Service South West regional director Kerry Winsor said the lead-in prior to the project picking up pace over the past year had been long but it was pleasing to see it completed.

“It took a little while to figure out what we could do,” she said.

“The elders really came through – there was conversation where one of the elders asked me ‘Come and stand here, what would you see if you were in this bed?’.

“What I saw was a clinical, busy and serious environment, when you’re unwell that can be pretty scary especially if you were an elderly aboriginal person.”

She said the art played an important role creating a welcoming environment instead of a clinical feel.

“There was lots of white and lots of plain walls without anything which demonstrated cultural safety,” she said.

“We know that Aboriginal people sometimes have a reluctance to come to hospitalsand into clinical environments.

“This is our way to say you’re welcome, you’re safe, you’re on Noongar country and encouraging people to be less fearful when coming in.”

Mrs Humphries said the trail covered every part of the hospital it possibly could.

“I think we’ve basically got something everywhere,” she said.

“I’m just glad that it’s all done now, but I’ve loved every part of doing this.”

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