2024 Excellence in Aboriginal Health

Sharon Beckwith – Rockingham Peel Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

Sharon is a Clinical Midwife Specialist with 30 years of experience, who is passionate about improving women-centred Aboriginal health care. Due to her exceptional midwifery leadership, the Women’s Outpatient Centre was successfully established providing an optimal space for Aboriginal Women’s Health. Sharon’s collective skills, passion, support, and encouragement have led change that provides an environment to support and empower Aboriginal women and families to actively contribute to their own health care through the provision of a culturally safe space. She is now currently in the process of arranging a smoking ceremony for the new clinic, working closely with Aboriginal volunteers and elders, and the Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer. It is ultimately Sharon’s dedication and modelling of SMHS values that have led her to be nominated for the awards.

Nicole Slavin – Rockingham Peel Group, South Metropolitan Health Service

Nicole is a highly visible and participative leader within the Emergency Department and possesses an undeniable passion for her profession. She flexibly and collaboratively leads in a very high acuity, fast paced environment as the Nurse Unit Manager. Nicole strives to make the demanding environment friendly and welcoming, making it an area of choice for nursing staff, achieved by fostering a culture of appreciation, friendliness, and trust. Her open-door policy allows her to always be accessible to all staff whether to provide emotional or practical support for them, as well as helping them pursue their personal goals to ensure a high-quality care to all patients. Nicole demonstrates humility, openness, and willingness to learn from Aboriginal cultures by actively embodying cultural competence, supporting colleagues, advocating for patients’ needs, and engaging in continuous learning and improvement. She has been fundamental in implementing the inaugural Aboriginal Health Practitioner role within the ED and has advocated strongly for their integration within the department. From developing extensive induction and orientation programs to defining a scope of practice for the new role, she has shown strong, sensitive leadership in supporting the individuals into the workplace and educating the multi-disciplinary team as to the introduction of the new role. The program is now successful with positive feedback from the Aboriginal health Practitioners, the ED team, and the community.

Melissa Lynch – King Edward Memorial Hospital, North Metropolitan Health Service

Melissa is a proud Noongar woman and midwife being the first, and currently the only, Aboriginal Midwife on the Aboriginal Midwifery Group Practice at KEMH where she engages with the Elders and Aboriginal Community providing antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care to Aboriginal women and families. Melissa strongly believes education is the key to ‘Closing the Gap’ for First Nations people and as such she delivers education to her patients to allow them to make autonomous and informed decisions. Most recently, Melissa was involved in the DJAKAMIRR documentary screening, promoting birthing on Country, participating in a Q&A panel afterwards with other Aboriginal leaders in Perth. Melissa is passionate about the provision of culturally safe maternity care for women and their families to improve the health outcomes of her people and educating and supporting her colleagues to be allies in ‘Closing the Gap’. It is her goal to embed cultural safety into the pregnancy and birthing space, empowering women through their pregnancy and birth. Her humility, empathy and vulnerability are rare qualities that demonstrate centred leadership which puts people first and focuses upon connecting with others in an authentic and respectful way.