Native seedlings planted with purpose in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead forecourt


Aboriginal Gathering Space plantingFrom little things, big things grow.

The Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW) is growing, and thanks to recent planting efforts from several helpful hands, so is the garden of the Aboriginal Gathering Space in our new forecourt. 

The gathering space will provide an area for families, staff and visitors to come together, and it will connect to an indoor meeting place and Aboriginal Health office once the Paediatric Services Building (PSB) opens.

This is one part of the transformative work Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network is doing to create spaces where Aboriginal families, staff and communities can feel connected and comfortable in our health facilities.

Among the group who assisted the redevelopment project team in planting the gathering space garden was ten-year-old patient Vula.

"I enjoyed helping Karen with the Acknowledgement of Country and digging up the dirt,” Vula said.

“I hope the garden will be used as a place where people can learn about my culture, kids can enjoy the outside and where mob can yarn.” 

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Director of Aboriginal Health Karen Beetson also contributed to planting the garden.

“I felt honoured to see this planting take place and know this outdoor space will contribute to young Vula’s healing journey,” Ms Beetson said.

“Incorporating cultural healing practices alongside clinical interventions is an integral part of Aboriginal Care Navigator Joshua Toomey’s role within the team.

“I will have the privilege of watching these plants grow along with our cultural responsiveness of our services to our community's needs. It’s heartening to see how we are changing our hospitals and incorporating more cultural practices, art and language to support patients, families and visitors to connect with country.”

“We heal through our connection to Mother Earth, so being able to come and sit outside in this space that’s been specifically designed for our people to visit, and just be connected to country, is very special.” 

Due to open in spring this year, once the fresh food grocer and additional retail fit outs are complete, the revitalised forecourt will be a vibrant, welcoming space for our whole hospital community to enjoy.