Honouring rich cultures as part of NAIDOC week in Toowoomba

St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba staff supported NAIDOC week with the design and creation of shirts that represent and honour the local indigenous culture.

According to the driving force behind the project, Dr Mark Copland, Mission Executive “The NAIDOC shirt is a visible demonstration of our commitment to the St Vincent’s Health Australia Reconciliation Action Plan,” he said. Co-designed by staff members Mark Copland and Wade Jackson (Gungarri man) the generous artistic skills of Wade’s wife Daphne (Mardigan woman) have brought the shirts to life.


“The shirts are a way of honouring our ancestors and shared history as well as appreciating the rich cultures which belong to our region,” said Daphne. “We recognise our Torres Strait Islander Sisters and Brothers along the top of the shirt with the colours and creatures of the sea. The Bunya nut is at the centre of the shirt representing the central role the Bunya Festival had in our region for thousands of years. People came from as far away as Roma in the West, Moree in the South and Stradbroke Island off the Coast to attend this ancient parliament of our region. Ancient ceremonies would be held along with discussion of laws and negotiation between various tribal groups at the Bunya festivals,” Daphne said.

The Western Rivers and communities can be seen along the bottom of the shirt with their black and white footprints covering the land.

As Wade explained, “Through wearing these shirts we demonstrate our pride in our shared history and our valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. “More than 70 of our staff regularly wear the shirt on a Friday as well as during Reconciliation week and NAIDOC week. Those wearing the shirts regularly make a donation to a local charity as a way of supporting our community.” 

St Vincent’s Toowoomba were recently accredited to the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards for a further three years and at the onsite assessment our assessors praised the staff for this cultural initiative.