Preparations underway for CAMHS site

Image above: Lachlan Moore and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Aboriginal Program Officer, Sharon Williams

October 2022

A centuries old custom has continued with a traditional Aboriginal tree scarring occurring at Nepean Hospital’s reconciliation garden.

As part of the cultural initiative bark was scarred to honour the Grey Box Gum trees which need to be felled to construct the new Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service facility (CAMHS).

The new facility is being built at Nepean Hospital to meet the health needs of young people in Western Sydney who experience mental illness.

Construction on the new CAMHS facility, which is part of the NSW Government’s $700 million mental health infrastructure program, is scheduled to commence in 2023.
The practice of scarring sees the deliberate removal of bark or wood from a tree. As it is considered a versatile and plentiful material, bark would often be used by Aboriginal people to create shelter, construct shields, build canoes and be used as vessels (coolamons). 

The bark removed from the reconciliation garden will be turned into coolamons and donated back to Nepean Hospital to be used in the birth unit for Aboriginal parents to place their newborn child in, as well as be used by other departments.  

The tree scarring was performed by Aboriginal men Wayne Cornish from Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre and Brad Moore from the Greater Sydney Local Land Services alongside his son Lachlan Moore. 

The hospital’s reconciliation garden including many of the smaller native plants are being relocated to an area closer to the hospital entrance. The garden, which opened in 2002, is dedicated to the stolen generations of Aboriginal people, and in memory of Dr Chris Kohlenberg and Professor Brian Spurrett for their dedication, commitment, and contribution to the improvement of Aboriginal women and children’s health.