The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) are extremely disappointed to learn of Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews’ plans to rename Maroondah hospital after Queen Elizabeth II.
While VACCHO welcomes plans to rebuild and expand Maroondah Hospital – we are deeply insulted by the decision to rename the facility in honour of the Crown.
Replacing an Aboriginal derived word ‘Maroondah’ (an Aboriginal word meaning “throwing” and “Maroon” meaning “leaves”) with the name of the former Queen of the United Kingdom is a significant step backwards.
At a time when important progress is being made towards Treaty and a Voice to Parliament, the lack of consultation around the name change is a disheartening move and puts a question mark on the commitment of governments to walk with First Peoples..
The disappointing name change comes on the back of the Federal Government’s insensitive decision to ask us to mourn a person who represented an empire that took so much from First Peoples. This week’s day of mourning is yet another insult when Aboriginal people have been advocating to declare January 26 a day of mourning for decades.
Almost 250 years since the colonisation of Aboriginal lands started – lands that were stolen and never given up – our people continue to experience devastating impacts at the hands of a system designed to eradicate not only our people but also our culture.
Deaths in custody, intergenerational trauma, higher rates of mental illness, higher rate s of chronic disease, institutionalised racism, and barriers to access in health and aged care services are just some of the major disadvantages being experienced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
VACCHO and 32 Community controlled health organisations across the state fight hard to remove these barriers and provide culturally safe care every day.
Naming a major hospital after Queen Elizabeth II adds yet another barrier for the Aboriginal community – and undoes the decades of work VACCHO and Members have done to create inviting, culturally safe spaces.
VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher has described the proposed name change as deeply hurtful and upsetting to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Victoria.
“Whilst we are surrounded by British culture in this country – Aboriginal culture, and the Aboriginal way of life is almost invisible.”
“There are already countless statues, landmarks and venue names, dedicated to colonial-era British people. There are two entire states named after Queens. The capital of Victoria is named after a British Prime Minister – it never ends”
“This is a time when our society is in desperate need for increased recognition of Aboriginal leaders, words, and culture.”
“Renaming the Maroondah hospital will see yet another piece of our culture erased and replaced by the culture of the invaders.”
“Culture needs to be seen and understood as a protective and healing factor for Aboriginal people. Anything that takes away from our culture has detrimental impacts on the health and wellbeing of our people.”