NATIVE Australian plants with healing properties are growing into a key feature for the city's biggest hospital.
Ballarat Health Services has reinvigorated its central Gardiner-Pittard garden at the Base Hospital with plants used for well-being in Aboriginal culture. A garden opening comes ahead of NAIDOC week, celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
BHS Aboriginal health team leader Emma Leehane, a Yorta Yorta woman of mixed descent, said acknowledging other forms of medicine helped to play a role in education, awareness and sparking interest - all of which were important ingredients in reconciliation.
Ms Leehane said the garden was an initial focus for people entering the hospital via the main Drummond Street entrance. The garden was also a reflective place where people might later want to learn more.
"What we wanted to do, even though we're an organisation based on western medicine, was to recognise medicine of First Australians because we are a national healing provider," Ms Leehane said.
"(NAIDOC Week theme) Voice, treaty, truth is about reconciliation and working together...We're trying to help make the hospital more culturally safe and appropriate. There are little ways we can do this - the garden is a step, and we'll have information on all the plants."
Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative chief Karen Heap helped plant a Banksia Roller Coaster for the garden opening on Tuesday. The plant, once flowering, will have a honey-like nectar with medicinal properties.
Ms Heap said BADAC and BHS had long partnered to promote cultural understanding and comfort in health and the garden was a great step in developing this.
The garden also featured a flax which can later be used for weaving. Ballarat's Donna Blackall, a Yorta Yorta woman, was on site for the opening offering introductory lessons to weaving.
Ms Blackall was drawn to learn the ancient technique from weaving aunties, including Gunditijimara Aunty Connie Hart, after her mother died. She considers herself a journey woman in the art - not a master, but learning - and shares what she learns in cultural talks and tours, predominantly in Melbourne.
Weaving can be therapeutic, Ms Blackall said, whether it be in classes of women enjoying a good chat or other concentrating on mindfulness as they worked.
"I feel I'm in the right place. I'm passing on skills that otherwise wouldn't be taught," Ms Blackall said.
Her pieces can be found on Instragram but most of her work, she said, was found via word-of-mouth.
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