Today is the National Day of Healing, also known as National Sorry Day.

May 26, 2022

Today and every day VACCHO stands with the Stolen Generations and their families in their journey to healing.

It’s now been 25 years since the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in parliament in 1997.

The question must be asked – what gains have been made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this time?

Our people are hurting and still being hurt in structures that should be capable of demonstrating cultural safety and upholding the concepts outlined within the human rights charters that underpin structures to mitigate the risk of preventable deaths.

Systemic racism, poor health and wellbeing outcomes, deaths in custody, the growing number of children in out of home care, and young people who are often living with the burden of trauma, not to mention the glaring gap in life expectancy that continues to devastate the Aboriginal community.

Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care in Victoria are the highest in Australia; at 11.9% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria. In 2020-21, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were admitted to out-of-home care at a far higher rate in Victoria than in any other state or territory (Family Matters Report 2021)

While the rate of overrepresentation continues to climb, levels of funding in Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) continues to be a concern for VACCHO Member organisations, which triggers a sense of hopelessness for all that hope to be able to do more, but with limited resources.

VACCHO’s Member organisations and the broader Aboriginal Community Controlled sector provide robust, evidence-based prevention programs that support Aboriginal communities through the entirety of the life cycle – before birth to the Dreaming. Aboriginal-led prevention programs have proven to be successful in supporting strong and healthy communities.

There are no easy solutions.

Having Aboriginal leaders and organisations in the driver’s seat is critical to enabling self-determination and should be reflected in the policy framework that govern programs design.

Culture must be acknowledged and visible, and whilst understood as a protective factor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Healing and culture need to be core to the way forward.

VACCHO and its 32 Member organisations across the state will continue to support the health and well-being of those from the Stolen Generations who are still recovering from loss of family, loss of culture and loss of loved ones, and those experiencing trauma whilst trying to navigate various systems to have their unmet health needs addressed.

VACCHO is calling for increased investment to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people by resourcing Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to deliver culturally safe, trauma-informed prevention programs.

We need those in positions of delegation and decision making to be brave and bold in acknowledging that we cannot improve the lives of some of the nation’s most vulnerable, if we are not working together strategically to address the underlying health issues that place vulnerable people at risk.

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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 33 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.