Jul 3, 2021

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) marks NAIDOC week 2021 with a call to Heal Country. The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country, Heal our Nation – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.

This year’s NAIDOC theme speaks to VACCHO’s core priorities. Healing Country means finally resolving the many injustices experienced by our people. Fighting these injustices and inequities is a battle VACCHO has been rigorously involved in since its inception in 1996.

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak we have seen the critical role community-controlled health organisations play in providing holistic health care for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community.

More than thirty-two per cent of Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have received their first COVID vaccine dose. This is the highest uptake of first dose vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher believes NAIDOC Week 2021 provides an opportunity to reflect on the critical role Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) play in providing holistic, culturally safe care for community.

“Our 32 members and their hardworking staff have been a trailblazing force in the fight to heal country and who give their heart and soul for their communities each and every day.”

“The strong uptake of the COVID vaccine amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Victoria shows the crucial role our members play in protecting the health and wellbeing of our community.”

“This NAIDOC week also serves as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to do in our fight to heal country. We owe it to our future generations to seize the opportunity to break the mold – and ensure the health disadvantages that have held back our people for so long do not define the legacy of today’s children.”
Background  VACCHO is the leading advocate for the health of Aboriginal peoples in Victoria and a peak organisation to its membership of 32 ACCOs. VACCHO also works closely with partner organisations, Government, non-Government community sector organisations across Victoria and nationally.    ****** For media inquiries please contact Michael Lynch on 0427 760 936 or

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher believes it is time to create a new day that is inclusive for everyone.

“It is time for us to press the reset button and create a new day – a new date – a day where we can all celebrate and feel included. January 26 is not that day – January 26 hurts.”

“Change needs to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with our voices at the forefront, but we need allies around us, and we need a focus on educating all Australians about the true history of this country.”

“We also need a bold and brave government to make this change. Last year we saw the government listen to Aboriginal leaders and free the flag – we must keep the momentum going and do something about this date.”

“The time for change is well and truly overdue and needs to happen now.”


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VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.