Queensland’s West Moreton Health has held their first Welcome Baby to Community ceremony, a contemporary take on the traditional Welcome to Country.

The event welcomed babies born in the past year to the community to recognise the many Indigenous Australians from different areas living in the West Moreton region.

Babies and their families were welcomed with traditional dances, a smoking ceremony and were given small gifts by the Elders from the West Moreton Health Ipswich Hospital Yarning Circle yesterday.

The gifts included a mobile adorned with two emu fathers that represented choices in life.

West Moreton Health recognised that for thousands of years First Nations peoples have welcomed and acknowledged babies’ connection to the lands they were born on.

“Our Welcome Baby to Community ceremony recognises the important cultural need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to connect children to community,” said West Moreton Health’s Coordinator of Indigenous Hospital Liaison Service Cassandra Tratt.

“[For] our health service, our midwives, nurses, doctors and support staff, it builds a strong cultural understanding and appreciation for the community we serve.”

Ms Tratt said the West Moreton Health is also working with Indigenous mums-to-be to encourage their attendance at community and hospital clinics to improve both prenatal and antenatal care.

Queensland’s Minister for Health Steven Miles said projects and events like these respond to the challenges that were highlighted in the Queensland Closing the Gap Performance Report 2018.

“Activities such as West Moreton Health’s new Welcome Baby to Community ceremony place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities at the centre of health services and programs while building the cultural capability of Queensland Health services,” Minister Miles said.

“[It] recognises that health is traditionally a holistic concept for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, encompassing the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of the individual and of the whole community.”

West Moreton Health now has plans to host Welcome Baby to Community ceremonies every six months.