Benedict is always proud to be part of community-based initiatives. Fairfield Hospital’s new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander garden is one such initiative and a physical reminder of the cultural importance of Australia’s Indigenous people.
Constructed on traditional Darug Land and designed in the shape of a sugar glider – a totem of the Darug people – the garden features four shields – for ‘protection’ and three circles to represent the circle of life.
The entire project was brought about by the hospital’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer Katrina Sing and Neal McGarrity from the Angel Feather Foundation. “The concept was to increase representation around cultural safety and awareness” said Katrina. “I’m very passionate about my role and made it my mission to see the garden built”.
The garden was christened Ngalawau Nag-ah-mi (sit and to dream) after the community voted on a name during the NAIDOC Week celebrations.
“During the design, it was important to incorporate native materials and plants” explained Neal. “We chose hardy products that were also aesthetic to create a tough but tranquil retreat. “Benedict has a range of products that fit the bill and we utilised the 14mm Cowra Gold Pebble, 14-5mm sandstone aggregate mulch along with the decorative rocks.
Almost 15 months in the making, the garden was unveiled during NAIDOC Week (in July), a time that celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Representatives from Benedict, including Group Marketing Manager Elke Dupere Rowan were on hand for the opening festivities that included a smoking ceremony by Billy Tompkins, performances from the Buuja Buuja Butterfly Dance Group and the Urban Zenadth Kes Torres Strait Islander Dance Group and a traditional bush tucker demonstration by Shared Knowledge. It was a great day and a colourful turnout with 15 information stalls, a NSW police indigenous car, a local fire truck and Western Sydney Wanderers sponsored play area for the children.