ROC Toowoomba: Naming the Halcyon a step towards reconciliation

Brisbane-based Icon Group has installed Australasia’s first Varian Halcyon™ system to the Radiation Oncology Centre (ROC) in Toowoomba. 

The new state-of-the-art Halcyon system offers pioneering technology to streamline and simplify every aspect of a patient’s cancer treatment. The system delivers radiation therapy with pinpoint precision and speed, providing a more comfortable service for up to 50 patients a day at ROC Toowoomba.

More than 26,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer every year, and more than 8,600 die from the disease, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting cancer affected 542 per 100,000 people in Queensland between 2006 and 20101.

Toowoomba & the Darling Downs has several Indigenous groups which form the larger Waka Waka Nation. ROC Toowoomba sits on the North side of our city, which means we work on Jarowair land. When considering the name for the new Halcyon machine being installed, ROC turned to their local Indigenous community, including Jarowair Elders & Custodians for guidance.

There has been a particular process undertaken to ensure the name of the machine would be not only fitting, but spiritually & culturally safe to ensure a smooth installation & operation of the machine. There has been much deliberation involved to decide on a Jarowair word. One of the barriers to this has been that, much like the majority of Indigenous languages across Australia, Jarowair has been deemed extinct. Colonisation was particularly impactful on the Darling Downs & only a few pages remain of what was a sub-dialect of the larger Barrunggam language group spoken here.

The Custodians have generously given their permission to name the new Halcyon machine ‘Biarah’.

This word is one of the few surviving Jarowair words & we are privileged to be able to borrow it. The word means ‘mountain’, which is significant in many ways:

 

  • A mountain is tenacious, strong & steadfast.
  • A mountain represents a climb or challenge, which all of our patients face with a cancer diagnosis. However, a mountain can be conquered!
  • A mountain is a recognisably permanent part of a landscape; Just like our first Australians & the importance of Indigenous connection to Country.
  • A mountain will withstand weathering, just as the word ‘Biarah’ has withstood time & much tribulation. It stands as one of the few remaining Jarowair words.
  • The top of the Halcyon itself comes to a peak.
  • We are always striving for achievement & looking upwards.
  • Toowoomba sits astride the Great Dividing Range – we are in mountain country.
  • Local Indigenous people across Toowoomba & the Darling Downs are known as ‘biarah burra’ – mountain people.

This is a significant milestone in ROC Toowoomba history and is a meaningful, positive move toward reconciliation & envisage it will reinforce our relationship with the local Indigenous community. ROC Toowoomba is also proud to make a conscious step to conserve the language of our local Jarowair people by instating it as a part of our everyday language within the company.

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