Pharmacists celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021

Chris Owen with Barry Maitie's painting, called 'HisTree'.

The Guild’s Queensland branch commissioned artwork from Torres Strait Islander artist Barry Maitie

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland Branch has shared its activities and experiences of commemorating NAIDOC Week 2021.

NAIDOC Week (4-11 July) invites all Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The NAIDOC 2021 theme, “Heal Country!”, calls for all Australians to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

To recognise NAIDOC Week 2021, the Guild’s Queensland Branch is sharing stories from community pharmacies on its Facebook page.

Artist Barry Maitie

The branch also commissioned artwork from Torres Strait Islander artist Barry Maitie, which was unveiled at the beginning of NAIDOC Week.

Acting Branch President Chris Owen said he was honoured to reveal the painting this week.

“Barry is a self-taught artist working exclusively with acrylic paint on canvas and only started painting seriously in 2018,” said Mr Owen.

“His images reflect his homeland of Malu Kiai, Boigu, and his distinctive style expresses the vibrant spirit and atmosphere of the Torres Strait culture. Myths and legends told by Elders, the environment, the constellations and the traditional Malu Kiai culture are a constant source of inspiration for Barry.”

Barry credits his Elders, Aunties and Uncles for recognising his artistic talent and giving him the confidence to practise his craft.

The Guild’s Queensland Branch, Branch Committee and staff thanked Barry for creating this artwork.

“We are deeply appreciative of the stunning work Barry has created,” said Mr Owen.

“We are thankful Barry has shared with us his creative gifts and allowed us the privilege of displaying his work in a manner that will allow us to enjoy and reflect on its meaning for many years to come.”

Guild executive director Suzanne Greenwood recently wrote about the importance of reconciliation, encouraging the Guild and its members to take a step back and reflect on their relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

She said the Guild was developing its national Reconciliation Action Plan, which will be released after final endorsement from Reconciliation Australia.

“It will detail the very real and positive actions the Guild can take towards reconciliation and show leadership, and support for our member pharmacies to provide culturally safe care,” said Ms Greenwood.

“Community pharmacies, as pivotal elements in the national health system, are critical in providing positive health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and this is just a single example of how reconciliation must work in a very real sense.

“Providing culturally safe health services – often in very remote locations and at times with the pharmacist being the only healthcare professional available – is a tangible example of what we all must do more of.”

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