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Rita McKenzie – Aboriginal Cultural Development Partner

04 Aug 2022


Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District is committed to improving the health disparities that Aboriginal people currently face compared to all other Australians in life expectancy and chronic illnesses. To help us achieve this goal, Rita McKenzie has joined the District as Aboriginal Cultural Development Partner.


Rita will be key to continuing cultural education, learning and growth within the organisation, facilitating the NSW Health Respecting the Difference cultural learning program. 


“I look forward to working with our staff to ensure our facilities are culturally inclusive and safe for Aboriginal staff, patients, and visitors, and better equip our staff to support the needs of Aboriginal patients,” says Rita.


The Respecting the Difference training will be delivered by Rita to assist and support all staff to deliver effective and culturally safe services to Aboriginal people in the District.


“Our training will be culturally rich, conducive to safe and constructive discussion and develops a full understanding of the challenges facing Aboriginal people today,” says Rita.


With strong Western Sydney roots, Rita, a proud Gamilaroi woman, knows our community well and draws on her background in training and facilitation to provide practical skills to support staff. 


I’ve lived in Western Sydney and the Nepean Blue Mountains area since 1969, I have a very rich connection to the many communities across our District,” says Rita.


While the training is one step towards creating a culturally competent workforce, the District is also focussed on growing the Aboriginal workforce and developing our existing Aboriginal staff, ensuring our policies and services are provided in a culturally responsive manner, and delivering our Aboriginal Health Plan.


“There are already many examples of outstanding work happening across the LHD to address these issues, whether it is in making Aboriginal patients feel welcome when they access hospital facilities, providing culturally safe nursing, medical and allied health care to Aboriginal patients, supporting Aboriginal patients to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of chronic disease, or developing population-level programs to prevent disease and promote wellbeing,” says Kay Hyman, NBMLHD Chief Executive. 


The District is also working towards growing our Aboriginal workforce so that the community is truly represented when using our services.


“We are proud to have almost doubled our Aboriginal workforce over the last four years. The proportion of staff who currently identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, has grown from 1.6 per cent to 2.81 per cent of all employees,” says Kay.


“This is the highest this rate has ever been however we want our workforce percentage to match our community representation rate of 3.8 per cent, so there is more work to do in this area,” added Kay.


Rita joins our Diversity & Inclusion team in the Workforce, People & Culture Directorate.