4 November 2022

Laura Hand-Ross - the Aboriginal leader in health is here to lend her voice to people in the bush

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Laura Hand-Ross

Laura Hand-Ross has an important seat at the table, being appointed to the NSW Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel which aims to improve health outcomes for people across rural and regional NSW. Photo: Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Laura Hand-Ross is a leader in health who is passionate about giving a voice to the people who live in rural and remote communities.

She feels passionate and hopeful about her position on the NSW Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel.

“My motivation to speak up, to be a truth teller, to say it as I see it, will be embraced,” Laura said.

“I will be the one inviting the city people, the decision makers, to the bush and helping them see what we see, to better understand, and to keep it real.

“I hope the voice of regional NSW will be at the forefront of all our discussions.”

Laura is a proud Wamba Wamba/Muthi Muthi woman who has connections to the Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal Nations and feels privileged to be part of her culture and community.

“There is still a lot to learn, and if I can be a part of that, of affecting real change on the ground, then I would feel honoured and very happy indeed.”

The District Clinical Leader MHDA (mental health, drug and alcohol) Aboriginal Peoples says she has a deep sense of responsibility to her people and culture.

She is passionate about representing those who are marginalised and the minority groups of the community.

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“My Aboriginal community is matriarchal, where women are the leaders and at the forefront of cultural guidance and decision-making,” Laura said.

The chair of the Aboriginal Land Council and a founding member of the Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre witnessed the difficulties her people faced when accessing culturally appropriate services, especially those requiring mental health services.

“I wanted to educate others and make sure our communities value and respected inclusion,” she said.

The influential leader in health faced the challenges of working and living in her country with her people.

“There are cultural considerations to work into your practices, many that had not really been previously noted or implemented.

“My role as mental health clinician, who happens to be Aboriginal, really has learnings for the wider community because I see the positive impact we can make in implementing respectful and culturally appropriate services to all people,” Laura said.

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Laura is trained in clinical supervision and has over 14 years of experience working for the Murrumbidgee Local Health District in clinical and managerial roles.

Laura was appointed to the NSW Regional Health Ministerial Advisory Panel. The panel’s goal is to improve the health outcomes for rural and regional NSW people.

She also recently completed the NSW Public Service Aboriginal Leadership Program.

Laura moved back to Deniliquin when her son was three years old to ensure he experienced his ancestral land and culture.

“I wanted him to feel the connection I had with my family, with our kin, and I have seen much change in our community since then,” Laura said.

“As a single Aboriginal mother who is a part of the LGBTQI community, I have much-lived experience around the obstacles that marginalised people face.”

As part of a growing mental health team, Laura was surrounded by various people from various disciplines, including social workers, senior nurses and psychologists.

“I had the incredible opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people.”

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