Sutherland Hospital opens new Dharawal Aboriginal lounge for carers

A new place of solace and rejuvenation has opened its doors at Sutherland Hospital.

Designed for carers of patients, the Aboriginal Dharawal lounge was officially welcomed by the hospital community.

It is a space where people can unite over a quiet conversation and have a break from the wards, all while celebrating Australia's Indigenous heritage.

With new lounges, a kitchen, table and chairs, and tea and coffee making facilities in the room, the area is vibrant and welcoming.

It has been decorated by Aboriginal art works by community artists including Aunt Deanna Schreiber, Aunty Annette Webb, Bianca Warner, Amy Hill, Caitlin Stuart and Tom Avery.

Dalmarri artists Jason Douglas and Trevor Eastwood have coordinated an original artwork that was created specifically for the room, with contributions from staff, patients and carers.

"The lounge is a culturally appropriate space for patients, their families and carers to enjoy a cup of tea, have a conversation about the patient's care or simply rest while their loved one is receiving treatment," Hospital General Manager Vicki Weeden said.

The opening was marked by a Welcome to Country, Smoking Ceremony and tour, followed by an artistic workshop and morning tea with traditional Aboriginal food.

The lounge was funded by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Carer's Program and Aboriginal Health Unit, The Integrated Healthcare Unit, Kirkton Rd Centre and PACH/Health Promotion.

It is an initiative that supports the strategic directions of the hospital, NSW Aboriginal Health Plan 2013-2023 and Health Services Aboriginal Health Implementation Plan 2021-2023, which aims to reduce cultural barriers and enhance the capacity to deliver quality healthcare to Aboriginal people.

Sutherland Hospital continues to support the best approaches to prevention, early intervention, and treatment of health conditions of greatest concern to ageing Aboriginal communities.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has poorer health outcomes and higher rates of disability than non-Indigenous Australians of the same age. They are also more likely to live with chronic conditions and have a lower life expectancy.

There is a similar lounge at St George Hospital, which was established in 2019.