Palliative Care Queensland

Smoking Ceremony at Karuna Hospice Services – Brisbane

As part of Palliative Care Queensland’s Yarning Circles & Getting Out on Country project, PCQ has launched its first Getting out on Country smoking ceremony.

On Wednesday 30th August, Palliative Care Queensland (PCQ) joined hands with Karuna to organise a smoking ceremony, performed by the Turrbal People. This momentous event, led by Koolaburra Dancers and Aunty Kathryn of the Turrbal people, resonated with the essence of bringing together lands and cultures. The collaborative effort sought not only to honour ancient traditions but also to create a bridge between different worlds, performed on the beautiful grounds with the backdrop of Karuna House.

The ceremony brought together a diverse audience, including Bart Mellish, MP for Aspley, representing the minister of Health, MP Shannon Fentiman, Karuna board members and CEO, Tracey Porst, PCQ CEO, Louise O’Neill, PCQ staff, Karuna staff, and representatives from Metro North Health and Queensland Childrens’ Hospital.

The smoking ceremony, a sacred ritual in Aboriginal culture, is a potent symbol of cleansing, healing, and connection. It is a ritual that involves the burning of native plants, with the smoke carrying messages to the ancestral spirits while simultaneously cleansing the surroundings. The decision to incorporate this tradition into the collaboration between PCQ and Karuna signifies a deep respect for the land’s original custodians, their rich cultural heritage and the ongoing partnership between PCQ and Karuna.

In a world often defined by division, PCQ and Karuna’s collaborative smoking ceremony reminds us that unity is possible when we acknowledge, embrace, and celebrate the diverse cultures that make up our society. It stands as a testament to the power of collaboration in nurturing a shared sense of purpose and respect for the land and its people. In an era where healthcare is increasingly recognising the importance of patient-centred care, acknowledging cultural diversity has become paramount.

The collaboration between PCQ and Karuna illustrates how incorporating cultural practices, such as a smoking ceremony can help bridge the gap between conventional medical approaches and the diverse beliefs of patients. This approach not only enhances the patient experience but also contributes to more effective and compassionate healthcare delivery.

As the smoke cleared and the ceremony concluded, the echoes of the event lingered, serving as a reminder that cultural appreciation and unity are not just momentary endeavours but lifelong commitments that hold the potential to enrich our collective journey.


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