Unique Honor for Local Elder

Margaret Moore was always a trailblazer – even as a young woman when she packed up her life at Batemans Bay, and headed off to find regular work.

Lucky for us, she landed on Wemba Wamba Country and met her future husband. With Eddie Moore, Margaret went on to have six children, while helping and working with her community where she gained the status of Elder, and made huge inroads with family, community and Aboriginal Culture.

In 1999 Margaret was diagnosed with kidney disease, needing dialysis, and so began a long association with the dialysis services at Swan Hill District Health. Over the years, Margaret attended hundreds of dialysis sessions, and helped many of her people understand the process, and how it helps sufferers deal with this disease.

She worked with her family and community so they understood the importance of ensuring good health and looking after themselves. Margaret took the lead in helping ensure all her community live their best lives, and she helped instil these qualities in many people, especially her family members.   

Granddaughter, Nikita Moore, remembers as a 15 year old, heading to the dialysis unit from McKillop College during her lunch break. “She taught me a lot, taking me through how the machines worked, and what was happening with her health. She explained this to loads of people in the community, and supported family who had to have treatment too,” Nikita explains.

“I learned heaps from Nan, and went on to carry that forward by working as a maternal and child health worker. Even now, I’m carrying her messages through, as I stress to all my family the lessons I learned from Nan – especially how we have to manage our own healthy living, and link into services like Swan Hill Health.

“Nan really respected the dialysis staff at the hospital, and they always treated her with respect, including her in all the decisions, and I always thought I’d like to do something to give back to them,” she explains. Respect went both ways and dialysis staff have fond memories of Margaret (and the many youngsters cared so much about, including Nikita). Current renal nurse unit manager, Sharon Collyer, remembers Marg as an ideal, lovely patient. “She taught us lots, especially about how to listen to and interpret signs from our bodies. Marg was an expert at that, and we listened and learned from her.”

Nikita Moore pictured with the poster of her grandmother, Margaret proudly on display in SHDH Dialysis Department

The nurse remembers how Marg was always looking out for community members and helping ensure they had the best lives possible. “And she taught us about Aboriginal culture – she was very generous in sharing her knowledge. It was such a privilege to be able to work with her. And she had a great sense of humor.” Sharon recalls.

Margaret’s spirit lives on in the renal department, through a poster on the wall. Margaret represented the tag line for NAIDOC – Because of Her We Can. The poster is displayed in the department, as a tribute to their much-admired patient.

Margaret was a long term patient at the renal department – she attended sessions each week between 1999 and 2015.

It’s that long association granddaughter Nikita wants to pay tribute to. “Now I’m an artist, so I’ve often thought I would like to paint a special story for the dialysis unit, to honor Nan’s memory. When I saw the hospital was conducting an Aboriginal Art Competition, I took the opportunity to paint Nan’s picture and decided to donate it to the hospital, whether I won or not,” Nikita explains. Now the competition is finalised, and Nikita’s work is being donated to the dialysis unit.

Story of the artwork as told by Nikita Morre, Yemurraki Art

I’ve always valued community. My grandmother taught me this. Telling me stories of her journey, especially when it came to her health. She would say the doctors always made sure her health came first, and she became that leader in my family, to make sure we would always be on our health. So, this instilled in me that nyernda (knowing) of the importance of community, values and health and well-being. If we come together in our values as a community we would flourish. Kalintyerra is to love one another. My Nan would always tell me we should be grateful for the services provided these days, as it wasn’t always easy. Now much changes have happened in our community, and that road to better health is there for all. Telkaya is to be well and we should strive together as a community to achieve this. Telkaya (be well) and Kalintyerra (love one another) so we all can parnbandila (shine in many colors) 

**An indigenous-led Medical Research Future Fund study which aims to reduce the high rate of chronic kidney disease in First Nations communities is using advanced multi-omics technology to detect, prevent and manage CKD in First Nations communities. The South Australian based study states -First Nations Peoples have one of the highest rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the world. Diabetes accounts for about 75% of this disease. This rate of diabetic CKD is markedly higher than for non-Indigenous Australians. 

This story has been collected as part of the Swan Hill District Health Consumer Stories Project.
If you have a story to tell, or would like to share your experience, please contact the
Quality, Experience and Safety team on 03 5033 9894 or feedback@shdh.org.au