Thousands of protesters gathered around the country last weekend to protest Australia Day, now labelled by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as ­“Invasion Day”
Thousands of protesters gathered around the country last weekend to protest Australia Day, now labelled by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as ­“Invasion Day”

NSW health adviser disciplined for pressuring nurses

AN Aboriginal health adviser at a major hospital has been disciplined after pressuring nurses into supporting changing the date of Australia Day.

The official was giving a talk to about 60 trainee nurses at The Children's Hospital at Westmead last week when he urged them to rethink their views about holding the national day on January 26.

A friend of one of the nur­ses, who did not want to be named, wrote to 2GB's Ray Hadley Morning Show saying the new nurse was "stunned and humiliated" when the training day turned political.

The hospital employee was meant to be giving a talk about Aboriginal health when he asked all the nurses in the room to stand up.

"He then said, 'all those who think Australia Day should be changed from 26 January, sit down'," the friend wrote.

 

The official was giving a talk to about 60 trainee nurses at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
The official was giving a talk to about 60 trainee nurses at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead


"The person I know was stunned for a moment and ­remained standing with around 10 other people. The rest sat down. Out of fear I imagine. He then said that the people standing should have a long hard think about their views."

A Sydney Children's Hospitals Network spokesman said the staff member had been "counselled accordingly" following the incident.

"The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network acknowledges that staff orientation is not an appropriate forum for a political statement," the spokesman said.

"The role of the Aboriginal Health Adviser is to advocate for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients and families."

Thousands of protesters gathered around the country last weekend to protest Australia Day, now labelled by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as ­"Invasion Day" or "Survival Day". Protesters claim the day should not be celebrated on January 26 because it marks the invasion of their land by European settlers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected calls to change the date but left open the door for a separate day to acknowledge 60,000 years of indigenous history.

He has also lashed out at some NSW councils that have flagged changing the date of their Australia Day events.

"Indulgent self-loathing doesn't make Australia stronger," Mr Morrison tweeted in response to a Daily Telegraph story last year.

"Being honest about the past does. Our modern Aus(tralian) nation began on January 26, 1788.

"That's the day to reflect on what we've accomplished, become, still to achieve. We can do this sensitively, respectfully, proudly, together."



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