Launching Kilmore District Health's reconciliation action plan were, from left, acting chief executive Jennifer Gilham, board chair Kathryn Harris community engagement officer Jitka Jilich, board director Barb Schade, with Joanne Nicholson and Aunty Jo Honeysett from Taungurung Land and Waters Council.

Kilmore District Health launched its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan last week, with Taungurung elder Aunty Jo Honeysett providing a Welcome to Country.

The plan was developed and endorsed by Reconciliation Australia in June 2021, but due to COVID restrictions a launch was held off.

Staff were provided morning tea on Friday while watching the virtual launch. The public can watch the launch via www.kilmoredistricthealth.org.au/reconciliation.

Kilmore District Hospital board chair Kathryn Harris said the plan represented a formal commitment to reconciliation that recognised the strength, diversity and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families.

“Kilmore District Health recognises that improved outcomes in health and wellbeing can only be achieved if effective and respectful partnerships are established with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations,” she said.

“Our Reconciliation Action Plan – RAP for short, outlines a clear set of actions and change to be implemented over the next two years.

“Our RAP is intended to embed change across every area of the health service from governance, policy development, employment, training, and direct service delivery.”

Acting chief executive Jen Gilham said she was proud of the work Kilmore District Health had put into the development of the plan.

“While this is the first time we have formalised our commitment to reconciliation, the health service has been working to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for some time,” she said.

“Our goal is to increase access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to health, aged care and wellbeing services that are culturally safe and welcoming.

“We will work together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and form relationships based on an understanding of Aboriginal culture, values, connection to land, and the importance this relationship has to their health and wellbeing.

“We will provide opportunities for Aboriginal peoples through targeted recruitment activities and culturally inclusive practices. We value the unique skill set that the Aboriginal workforce contributes to the organisation, enriching our ability to provide culturally safe services to the Aboriginal community in our district.”

This Reconciliation Action Plan will cover the 2021 to 2023 period and has been designed as a living document that will be reported on and updated each year.

Community engagement officer Jitka Jilich thanked Ms Harris and the board, former chief executives Sue Raceand David Naughton and Ms Gilham for their support, Reconciliation Australia, and the RAP working group, particularly the community members who guided the implementation of the action plan.

“We thank Rebecca Welsh, who for the past 11 years has worked with us through her role as Aboriginal health and wellbeing project officer, with the Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership,” she said.

“Rebecca has been the one constant who has guided us, poked and prodded and encouraged us to take strong affirmative action. I know the support she gave came from the heart and from a passionate desire to see real change.”

Ms Jilich said through developing the plan, the one constant that was continually heard was a strong commitment to listening to what the Aboriginal community have to say.

“We invite the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to let us know what can be done for KDH to be a more culturally sensitive, safe and accessible service for you, your family and community,” she said.