“The Central Coast represents a sense of community and belonging. It’s grounding to be amongst some of the most extraordinary Aboriginal people that make up this diverse community on the traditional lands of Darkinyung people.”
When thinking of the Central Coast, you may visualise the crystal clear waters of Ettalong Beach, the rocky shores of Norah Head lighthouse or the buzzing esplanade of Terrigal. But what you may not immediately appreciate are the original owners of the land, the Darkinyung people. Belinda Field, the CEO of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services and a proud Wiradjuri and Kureinji woman, has lived on Darkinjung land for more than 34 years. Having made the move from Sydney’s western suburb of Auburn, Belinda and her family created a fresh beginning for themselves.
“For me, the Central Coast represents love,” Belinda said. “It’s childhood memories of when family and friends would visit. We would camp up the Watagan mountains and play by Wallarah creek. I see it as serenity and an innate connection.”
Coming from a professional background of child protection and teaching, Belinda felt drawn to the health services offered by Yerin, and has held the
position of CEO of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services for two years.
The Wyong medical centre was named after Eleanor Duncan, a notable Aboriginal woman and registered nurse. The centre opened in 1996 after receiving funding to establish a specified health service for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“Yerin is a metaphor which comes from the Erina dreaming,” Belinda explained. “It means salt water and fresh water combining to create brackish water. And this is the metaphor for tradition meeting western ways to deliver excellent integrated primary health care for our community.”
Yerin has more than 4,000 active patients and the organisation employs 45 staff, many of which are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. They offer a range of services under one roof including general practice, drug and alcohol support, optometry, podiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, allied health, mental health support and an upcoming dental clinic.
Yerin Aboriginal Health Services also has one general practice outreach clinic offered two days a week based in Gosford Hospital, known as Nunyara, to cater for communities who aren’t in the Wyong area.
Belinda believes that Yerin provides a much needed ‘cultural lens.’ She hopes that her work will change the stigma of Aboriginal community health by
holistically caring for their ‘mob,’ and to change cultural perceptions within the broader community.
“Whilst we’re an organisation, we’re busy community members that are very connected and bring a sense of belonging to our patients,” Belinda said. “It’s a matter of unravelling issues with each patient and getting to the root cause to discover other complexities that our community are presenting, so we can ultimately improve health outcomes for all.”
“We are here as the flagship for Aboriginal health care on the Central Coast.”
The Central Coast holds incredible cultural significance for all communities that inhabit the area, and Belinda feels that the serenity and history of the landscape are just another reason why she loves it so much.
“I feel blessed that I can go for a short drive up the Watagan mountains and breathe in the air of the gum trees, then head east to the beautiful sea shores of Norah Head beach and soak up the sun and sea breeze,” Belinda said.
Belinda sees the area as a diverse footprint which determines a different “why” for everyone who may be considering making the move here.
“My own why is to bring us all together and change our story,” Belinda said. “I lead from within. I get so much pleasure and reward from watching people succeed and I’m proud to be part of the change.”
Belinda is openly proud of her team and how they’re changing perceptions and social reform.
“We’re changing ideals so that we can say that healthy is normal amongst the Aboriginal community because we’ve got a primary health care unit on the Central Coast that is second to none,” she said. “We’re all part of a huge social reform when it comes to Aboriginal health, and I’m so happy to have this team.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the work that Yerin Aboriginal Health Services does, you can visit the website here.
Read what locals have to say about the Central Coast.