Welcoming Babies to Country


Cutting of the cake at the baby welcoming ceremony – Tanya Mitchell, Samara Milgate, Heather Mieni, Patricia Canty, Brendon Cutmore, Sandra Kelly, Courtney and Harper Kelly, Phil Bannon, Ian Raymond, Sonya Bentley and Nathaniel O’Connor, Cr Lachlan Ford, Jo Flick, Nicole Jenkins, Vivianne Prince and Bonnie Smith. Photo TWH

The Bourke community welcomed thirty-seven new babies to country and community, in a traditional cleansing and smoking ceremony last week.

The Welcome Baby to Country and Community event held in Darling Park, was offered to all babies, carers, and community members, commencing with a smoking ceremony and a cleansing ceremony with water from the Darling River.

A traditional coolamon was also used for photographic opportunities for the babies.

Aunty Margo Grimes welcomed the babies to country as Bourke Deputy Mayor, Councillor Lachlan Ford, and Ngemba Elder Heather Mieni presented each of the babies with gifts and certificates.

The Bourke Preschoolers provided entertainment with song and dance.

The event, coordinated by Patricia Canty of Western NSW Local Health District, was designed to recognise local families who are no longer able to give birth to their children in Bourke.

“When the maternity service closed at the Bourke Hospital about twenty years ago, Western NSW LHD made a commitment to help families connect to their homeland.

“As our babies now must be born elsewhere, there are cultural implications, particularly with our indigenous families.

“There are implications with native title, traditional owners and place of birth, which are all part of our distinction as indigenous people.

“The Area Health Service wanted to give back to our local families, in acknowledgement of them having to birth away from Bourke, so the idea of the welcoming ceremony evolved.

Mrs Canty says it has been several years in the pipeline, but in her new role as Manager of Aboriginal Health, she has been able to see it come to fruition.


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