Local health district apologises for displaying crucifixes in public hospital

Si Gladman / 17 February 2023

A local health district in Sydney’s west has apologised for displaying Christian crucifixes throughout one of its public facilities.

In a letter to the Rationalist Society of Australia, the New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Justin Clancy, explained that the Mount Druitt Hospital had continued to display crucifixes on its walls as it had formerly “had a previous agreement” with the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

Mr Clancy said that the Chief Executive of Western Sydney Local Health District, Graeme Loy, extended “his sincere apology” for the matter.

In early December last year, RSA president Meredith Doig wrote to state health minister Brad Hazzard seeking answers for why the Mount Druitt Hospital displayed a number of wall-mounted crucifixes throughout the facility.

A woman attending the hospital to undergo an operation filed a complaint after discovering the symbols in a reception area and in a ward room.

Soon after Dr Doig sent the letter in December, a representative of the hospital informed her that the hospital had been a former Catholic facility and that, in response to the complaint, the crucifixes had been taken down.

Mr Clancy said the former agreement with the Diocese of Parramatta had ended in 2012 – meaning that the crucifixes remained throughout the public facility for 10 years before being removed.

“The Diocese of Parramatta has contributed significantly to the history of Mount Druitt Hospital and its cultural development, and to this day provides ongoing support to the residents of Mount Druitt through its ministries,” he said.

“NSW Health promotes community harmony and cultural diversity to ensure there is equity and fairness for everyone across NSW. 

“Mr Loy extends his sincere apology for the impact this matter has had on you.”

The state government has not answered Dr Doig’s questions on whether other public hospitals across New South Wales currently display religious symbols and what actions it would take to ensure this case was not repeated.

She also asked the health minister to detail the government’s policy on displaying religious symbols in public hospitals.

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