Waratah: virtual care in NSW

Aboriginal artwork and story

In 2021, the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) commissioned this artwork from Aboriginal artist Lizzy Stageman to depict the story of virtual care. The artwork shows virtual care (also known as telehealth) as a way for patients to access healthcare close to home (on Country) and getting the right care at the right time, regardless of where they live.

Depicting this through Aboriginal artwork acknowledges the traditional lands that we live and work on.

The artwork will be used on ACI resources, merchandise and digital media to highlight a culturally appropriate connection for Aboriginal people engaging in virtual care.

Waratah by Lizzy Stageman

A word from the artist

My name is Lizzy Stageman. I am an Aboriginal contemporary artist from Dubbo NSW and I have been commissioned to design and develop an original artwork for NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation’s Virtual Care team.

The story behind the artwork has many meanings, expressed through the choice of colours and the symbols that I have used to tell the story of virtual care.

It was important for the ACI to acknowledge the traditional lands of the communities that they support and work on. This is represented by the earth colour palette used for the background of the artwork. My use of black and white is iconic for my contemporary style and is used here to tell the story of cultures coming together.

The focal point of my artwork is the waratah flower, in the centre of the artwork. I chose this native flower for its familiarity, being the floral emblem of New South Wales. The word waratah is an Aboriginal word for 'beautiful'. However, the flower is not only admired for its beauty; it also has medicinal purposes: Aboriginal people infuse the flower in a bowl of water as medicinal tonic.

In the artwork, the flower’s centre is made up of many “U” shape symbols. In Aboriginal culture, this symbol represents an individual and, in this artwork, the use of the symbol represents a community coming together. The outer leaves represent the opening arms of virtual care; reaching out to everyone to utilise the health services that they need. When you make your way down to the lower leaves you will see the ∩ and I shape symbols. These symbols represent the NSW Health staff, both indigenous and non-indigenous, celebrating this innovation in healthcare.

The sun symbol, which is centred at the top of the artwork, and the star symbols that are shining bright throughout the whole piece, are celebrating the “new” innovation in clinical care within NSW.

As you make your way around the outer part of the artwork, you will see community symbols at each corner. These represent the communities that virtual care goes out to; meaning, regardless of where you live, you can always access quality healthcare and valuable services. The community symbols are connected to the journey symbol that connects to the central symbol. This is how I tell the story of “access to all”; of how virtual care makes important services available to everyone while staying close to home.

Importantly, I portray that, no matter where you go or where the services you reach out to are, you are always on Aboriginal land. As such, along the journey, you will see footprints.

My artwork was designed with a contemporary modern twist to reach an indigenous and non-indigenous audience.

In creating this artwork, I would like to pay my respect to Elders past and present and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I was born and raised.

Lizzy Stageman

23 April 2021

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