Welcome to Country sign unveiled at Charleville

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New signage at Charleville Hospital unveilled during NAIDOC Week 2022

New signage at Charleville Hospital unveilled during NAIDOC Week 2022

During the South West NAIDOC week celebrations, Charleville Hospital unveiled remarkable new Welcome to Country signage by local artist Alara Geebung, with language provided by Bidjara Elder Keelen Mailman.

South West HHS Chief Executive Dr Anthony Brown said the painting ‘Numba’ was created by Alara Geebung to tell the story of both welcoming visitors to Bidjara country and to represent the healing of all cultures coming together.

“This extraordinary artwork acknowledges the incredible community we have and the dedication from the Bidjara people in making everyone feel welcomed,” Dr Brown said.

“The Welcome to Country is a significant protocol for the Bidjara people whereby the visitor’s wellbeing while on country becomes the responsibility of the Bidjara people, but equally places responsibility on visitors to be respectful to the country and its people.”

Alara Geebung and Keelen Mailman explain the Welcome to Country sign:

The central journey line showcases both the emu (Gulbai) and red kangaroo (Boudah) which are two of the significant totem animals for the Bidjara people. The emu (Gulbai) representing the start of a new journey and the red kangaroo (Boudah) represents moving forward on that journey but looking back to acknowledge the ways of our old people and the challenges they have endured.

The campsites (Yumbas) either side of the journey lines represents all the uncles, aunties, men, women and young ones that support us on that journey. The fires in the middle of the Yumba are known as Bourdee in language.

Finally, the handprints (Marduhs) replicate the traditional artwork you will see all over Bidjara country, where the old people would spit the ochre (Numbillina) around their hand (Murdah) to signify a deep spiritual connection and oneness with country.

These handprints (Murdus) on the sign are from some of the special people that actively contribute to this community and are made up of both First Nations and non-indigenous people showing unity and collaboration.

Thank you Alara and Keelen for this wonderful, inspirational art for the benefit of the wider community and visitors to the hospital.