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Yuwi banners help raise awareness of Mackay’s First Nations people

Published 28 May 2024

Updated banners bring local community together and celebrate the long-standing Yuwibara culture and traditions

NQPHN CEO Sean Rooney (right), Executive Director Health Service Integration and Innovation Karin Barron (left), and Traditional Custodian Elder for the Mackay region Philip Kemp present Mackay HHS CEO Susan Gannon with an updated 2024 Yuwi banner.

Schools, community organisations, and Government departments in Mackay have been quick to collect and display their updated Yuwi banners, a community initiative funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) in close collaboration with the Yuwi Aboriginal Corporation. 

A well-known and loved project in the Mackay region since 2018, there are now 105 NQPHN Yuwi banners proudly showcased in schools, kindergartens, childcare centres, universities, libraries, government departments, hospitals, disability agencies, youth centres, aged care facilities, Queensland Police stations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services and corporations, neighbourhood hubs, churches, general practices, and the Mackay airport. 

As a Traditional Custodian Elder for the Mackay region, Philip Kemp said it was important that locals of and visitors to Mackay knew the name of the land and the history of its people. 

“For me personally, the banners are recognition that the traditional custodians looked after the land and each other, and that they had their traditional lores that governed the way they lived,” he said. 

“When people read the story on the banner, they are very appreciative of the fact that the Traditional Custodians cared for the land for many thousands of years prior to settlement in the 1860s. 

“I would like to see the story on the banner permanently displayed in public spaces so everyone knows the Aboriginal history of Mackay.” 

Mr Kemp, who is the Cultural Practice Program Facilitator for the Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s (HHS’s) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit, uses the banner in his trainings at the HHS. 

“I use the banner when I deliver Cultural Practice training to Mackay HHS staff. It’s well received and many people are interested in learning the history of the Yuwi people,” he said.  

NQPHN Executive Director Health System Integration and Innovation Karin Barron said the banners were very popular with local community groups and organisations, and received an emotional response from the Yuwi people. 

“NQPHN is very passionate about this project as the banners help to raise awareness of and celebrates Mackay’s First Nations People, the Yuwi People, who have told us that the banners make them feel proud, seen and heard,” Mrs Barron said.  

“The banners also help organisations build relationships and make new connections within our community to promote and advocate the untold history and culture of the Yuwi People.   

“We know how important it is to showcase the history of our First Nations Peoples and we will continue to work closely with the Yuwibara, Traditional Owners, and Yuwi Aboriginal Corporation to keep the banners current and relevant.” 

NQPHN CEO Sean Rooney said the Yuwi banner project was an important community collaboration. 

“Making sure all people in North Queensland lead happier, healthy, longer lives is what we strive for, and the good health of any community needs a community focus and collaboration,” Mr Rooney said. 

“The 2024 Yuwi banner update saw collaboration with the Yuwi community, and we are proud to have worked with local Yuwi People, Traditional Custodians, and organisations who work with the Yuwibara People in the Mackay region to share their knowledge, traditions, stories, and pictures on this banner.”   

The updated banners were presented recently by Mr Rooney, Mrs Barron, and Mr Kemp to local community groups and health organisations that submitted Expressions of Interest (EOIs) to receive an updated banner.  

Last updated: 28 May 2024

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