Aged care and retirement living provider Ryman Healthcare has named its recently opened retirement village in Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula after Deborah Cheetham, an Indigenous soprano, composer and educator.
Deborah Cheetham, a Yorta Yorta woman, member of the Stolen Generation and the LGBTQI community, has been an influential advocate for First Nations people and a powerful public voice in the fight against all forms of discrimination.
The Deborah Cheetham Retirement Village in the seaside town of Ocean Grove welcomed its first residents in December but is still being developed.
Once completed it will be home to 280 residents and include villas, assisted living in serviced apartments and an aged care centre.
Site amenities will include a gym, bowling green, hair and beauty salon, chapel, cinema, bar, cafe and indoor swimming pool.
Ms Cheetham is the first Indigenous Australian to have a Ryman retirement village named in their honour but she follows fellow Australians including Weary Dunlop, Nellie Melba, John Flynn and Charles Brownlow who also have a village named after them.
Ms Cheetham said she was honoured to be recognised by Ryman Healthcare.
“Ryman are pouring their understanding of country and their willingness to learn further into the bricks and mortar of their establishment,” Ms Cheetham said.
“I’m so incredibly proud to be associated with them in this way,” she said.
Ryman Healthcare Victorian sales and community relations manager Debra Richardson said the organisation has been naming its villages after outstanding people for more than 35 years.
“First and foremost, this tradition is about honouring the contribution of that person and doing what we can to help preserve their legacy,” Ms Richardson said.
“But it’s also about creating a unique identity for that village. The village community becomes coloured by their character and imbued with the values that set that person apart,” she said.
“By amplifying the voice of someone who has been an agent of understanding and reconciliation we hope to help hasten the process of healing in our own unique Ryman way.”
More than 120 people attended the unveiling of the new name at The Dunes restaurant in Ocean Grove on 7 July, during NAIDOC week.
Main image: Cameron Holland, Debra Richardson, Kiely Buttell, Deborah Cheetham, Martyn Osborne, Emma Hogan and Paul Sutton
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