Henry brings his knowledge of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures to STARS

STARS Cultural Capability Officer, Henry Nona

STARS Cultural Capability Officer, Henry Nona

Henry Nona has recently joined STARS as the Cultural Capability Officer. Prior to coming to STARS, Henry was the Cultural Capability Officer at The Prince Charles Hospital for four years where he was involved in the establishment of the Healing Garden and the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Henry was born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait and grew up on Badu, an island about 60 kilometres of Thursday Island.

“My mum and dad all grew up in Badu, a Western Island of the Torres Strait Islands. I come from a family of 14. We later relocated down to Cairns. I identify as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian,” Henry said.

“I grew up in a family of language. I can speak seven different languages. It’s very interesting as you would pick it up very quickly, the different dialects of different mobs. For my children I speak to them in these seven languages, they are the next generation to carry the traditional language.

“If you hear songs and dance in the Torres Strait Islands I can identify exactly where they come from, which Island, and you also get taught the features of the people from different islands.”

Henry’s role as the Cultural Capability Officer is pivotal in building a culturally capable workforce at STARS.

“My role provides culturally appropriate support, guidance and education, including the promotion of best practice models,” Henry said.

“I plan on continuing the Cultural Practice Program which will include two separate sessions, one on Aboriginal culture and one on Torres Strait Islander culture.

“There are many differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, from language, to song, dance and costumes, and to how someone is welcomed.

“One of our most significant celebrations for Torres Strait Islanders is the Coming of the Light, which is held on 1 July every year. The Coming of the Light commemorates the adoption of Christianity across the islands.”

Henry has several projects he is going to work towards at STARS, including a Healing Garden, a private area where people can mourn someone who has passed away, as well as upcoming NAIDOC week celebrations.

Before working for Queensland Health, Henry led an internationally renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance group, Jaran.

“I’ve travelled to many countries with the dance group including Sweden, Finland, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, China and Hawaii. In Hawaii we performed in low socioeconomic area for the students and in Kuala Lumpur we performed for the refugee families – both experiences really touched my heart,” Henry said.

Henry is also interested in weight-lifting and general fitness.

“I used to be a keen boxer, although I’ve given that away now – but I am getting back into weightlifting. I like to be a positive role model for my people and the wider community, showing them the benefits of staying fit.”

2024-06-26T14:24:39+10:0026 June 2024|
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