30 May Meet our Aboriginal Health Working Group: Monica Hadges
- What is your role at Monash Health, and what does it entail?
My role at Monash is one of the State-Wide Area Mental Health Services Mental Health Promotion Officer / Senior Clinician roles. I work as the Community Consultation Coordinator for Early Life Mental Health Services (ELMHS). I proudly sit on the Aboriginal Health Working Group (AHWG) to develop relationships between Early in Life and the wider Monash Mental Health Program Streams. Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities requires that staff across disciplines and sectors develop cultural awareness and competence. This links to my role of staff training, consultation, reflective practice support, and community agency stakeholder engagement to collectively address mental health needs in South East communities.
- You’re in the Aboriginal Health Working Group, can you tell me why you’re passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Employment at Monash Health?
I collaborated with Aboriginal and Torres Trait Islander health workforces in the Northern Territory (NT) for a Youth Mental Health training project and was shocked by the disadvantage in NT. I respect First Nations approaches to nature, culture, kinship, and health. I remain passionate about closing the gap between Indigenous nations by inclusively creating opportunities for access to health, education, spirit, and employment, and have worked to develop relationships based on stories of recovery and hope, especially with regards to trauma informed practice.
- What does the Aboriginal Health Working Group do?
The AHWG is an executively sponsored committee at Monash Health responsible for The Reconciliation Action Plan. The Reconciliation Action Plan outlines national, local, and service-wide priorities. The RAP is to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can get the best access to and quality of holistic, culturally sensitive care. Recently the AHWG has developed an affirmative action employment process and is working to support existing and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforces to be recruited, trained, and supported in safe spaces for cultural reflection and professional development.
“Grounded in truth, walk together with courage” is the theme this year for National Reconciliation Week, what does this mean to you?
To me, this means being aware and ever-mindful of the stolen lands and appalling way First Nations Peoples were treated at the time Australia was colonised. It means walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, learning from them, and working together to move forward towards more equality and mutual respect.
- What does reconciliation mean to you, and why is it important?
To me, reconciliation means being aware of institutionalised structures that perpetuate inequality. Discrimination or inequality based on culture, sex, gender, race or religion is not ok to me.
National Reconciliation Week runs annually from 27 May – 3 June and a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements.
At Monash Health, we are working towards closing the gap with the support and guidance of the Aboriginal Working Group. The membership is made of representations from each are/unit/department:
- Aboriginal Health
- Allied Health
- Children’s Program
- Early in Life Mental Health Services
- Health Information Services
- Monash Community
- Nursing and Midwifery Education and Strategy
- Patient Experience
- People and Culture
- Public Affairs and Communication
- Social Work and Spiritual Care
- Women’s and Newborn Program
For more information on the events organised by the working group, click here.