VACCHO Declares Renaming Maroondah Hospital After Queen Elizabeth II a Step Backwards

Sep 19, 2022

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.” 

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher believes it is time to create a new day that is inclusive for everyone.

“It is time for us to press the reset button and create a new day – a new date – a day where we can all celebrate and feel included. January 26 is not that day – January 26 hurts.”

“Change needs to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with our voices at the forefront, but we need allies around us, and we need a focus on educating all Australians about the true history of this country.”

“We also need a bold and brave government to make this change. Last year we saw the government listen to Aboriginal leaders and free the flag – we must keep the momentum going and do something about this date.”

“The time for change is well and truly overdue and needs to happen now.”

 

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Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email communications@vaccho.org.au or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.

Background 

VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.