Traditional welcome to Notre Dame for new Medicine students

Marie Taylor welcomes first year Medicine students to the Fremantle Campus.

17 February 2014

First year Medicine students at The University of Notre Dame Australia recently participated in a unique and spiritual welcoming ceremony reflecting the commitment by the University to honouring the knowledge, language, traditions and culture of the nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples.

As part of their Orientation Week, new Medicine students enrolled on the Fremantle Campus were officially welcomed to the University with a traditional Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country delivered by Whadjuk Ballardong Nyungar Elder, Marie Taylor.

The smoking ceremony is a Nyungar ritual used to cleanse and purify a specific area, as well as warding off bad spirits from that location.

“For the second year in a row we have welcomed our first year students, not just to the School or the University, but to the Nyungar land on which we work,” Dean of the School of Medicine, Fremantle, Professor Gavin Frost said.

“Having an Elder say we are welcome to her country makes a lasting impression.”

During their first weeks at Notre Dame, the students will also learn the importance of working as a team to deliver quality health care and the expectations the medical profession has of them as student doctors.

Later this year, the students will also have the opportunity to undertake a placement in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region where they are paired with local families and experience life in a farming community.

“The Welcome to Country provides first year medical students with a very important beginning to their learning journey in the field of medicine,” Associate Dean, Aboriginal Health, Professor David Paul said.

“It reminds students that the traditions of healing on this land go back to the beginning of time and that central in their preparation of becoming good health practitioners is learning how to walk alongside Aboriginal people on the journey towards health and wellbeing.”

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;