Hospital mural bridges gap as town celebrates NAIDOC week
A 50-METRE mural telling the story of the Balonne River is bridging a symbolic gap - after it was unveiled at St George Hospital as part of NAIDOC week.
Artists Gordon Lister, Barry Boland and Johnny Tattam spent 150 hours working on the mural, on the walkway bridging the hospital and the allied health centre.
For Mr Lister, it's a way to celebrate the life blood of the town - it's water source.
"The river bank was our inspiration. Translated from my language, Balonne means long river... so we are celebrating that,” he said.
"It shows all the happy and good times and even the walkabout in this country, and we go to this place to fish, or even to walk along is healing.
"It's a very special place and we thank Queensland Health and hospital for letting us do this.”
St George Hospital service director Robin Brumpton said the mural was a significant achievement of the three painters.
"We have the men here today, and to actually hear them tell their story and the story behind each of the panels is really significant,” Ms Brumpton told The Beacon at the Tuesday unveiling.
"Barry Boland, who is our Indigenous Liaison Officer, led a discussion with community members about what the community needed.
"It is significant because as it links the community allied health and hospital, it brings the campus together.
"We are one health care community, one St George, and it says that to indigenous locals... I think it's valuable for us to have that inclusion factor as a hospital.”
Deputy Mayor and South West Hospital and Health Services board member Fiona Gaske said it was a well-timed opportunity to celebrate the "voice, treaty, truth” theme of this year's NAIDOC week.
"There is a community health theme of culture and connections.
"Closing the gap really is everyone's business, and that's why this partnership between these three globally recognised indigenous artists and SWHHS is so important and poignant,” Cr Gaske said.
"Voice isn't just about speaking, it's about expression and what we do together. It's about you telling us your truth and sharing that with us, and really closing the gap in action.
"The three artists yarn and share the vision about why community, health and closing the gap is everyone's business. We know the infinite associations of First Nations people, and what they've had with that over thousands of years, also the ongoing connection that everyone has with the river, and the beauty and wealth it brings the region.”
Cr Gaske said SWHHS was committed to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's health.
"We have a commitment to reducing health inequities between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes,” she said.