Opening and Blessing of the Mater Hospital’s Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing
Monday, 7 March 2022
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Thank you, Brendan, for the Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country. I pay my respects to the Cammeraygal of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land on which we gather, and to Elders, past, present and emerging.
At this blessing and opening of the new Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing, we acknowledge that, for First Nations’ people, wellbeing comprises “physical, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and ecological wellbeing, for both the individual and the community.”
Some 65,000 years later, modern medicine has embraced this ancient understanding and is now formally embedded in the Constitution of the World Health Organisation, which states that health is: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
If health is the sum of one’s physical, mental and social well-being, then an impact on one, must impact on the others. Experience tells us that is so. Studies demonstrate that is so. Every doctor, nurse and allied health professional knows that health is much more than needles and infusions.
In the 75 years since that founding statement in the World Health Organisation’s constitution, advances in medicine and health care have been enormous, although we tend to think of this in terms of improved procedures and more effective drug therapy.
Notwithstanding what the WHO recognised three quarters of a century ago and despite developments in what is sometimes called the ‘science of wellbeing’, what has lagged behind is its application as an integral part of health services. That is, until recently. It is not surprising that cancer care, where treatment is ongoing and which involves multiple disciplines, has led the way in providing care for the whole person - care which is so fundamental, not only to the medical outcome, but to the difficult journey along the way.
There can be no doubt that everyone in this room has family and friends who have been on the cancer journey. Hopefully they have had the type and level of care that the Kay Van Norton Centre provides, so that not only the cancer outcome but the journey, as a friend described it to me - was a life-changer - a friend who is just one person of the 65% of cancer patients who seek out such care.
That figure, 65% of cancer patients seeking such care, tells us there is a huge need for the whole person to be cared for. The Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing, providing evidence-based complementary therapies under the one roof, could not be more timely and more welcome, as was perfectly captured by a message of thanks from a patient:
“I’ve accessed face-to-face and virtual services at the Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing, including exercise physiology, yoga, meditation, oncology massage, and art therapy. It makes a huge difference to dealing with the fall-out from cancer. And I feel like I’m not doing it alone.”
So, a huge thank you to everyone involved, commencing with the gift of this beautiful Federation cottage, generously donated to the Mater by the Ritchie family, to Kay Van Norton Poche’s generous and ongoing gift which has enabled the cottage to be transformed into this beautiful Centre of Wellbeing, a quiet sanctuary of support, hope, and companionship.
Thank you to Mater’s health care professionals, in particular: the cancer services team, the dedicated practitioners of this Centre and Mater breast care nurses who, because of this magnificent facility, are able to extend their care to a wider patient group. And of course, always there, the Friends of the Mater.
It is my great pleasure to open the Mater Hospital’s Kay Van Norton Centre for Wellbeing.