Strong conversations strengthen partnerships at final Health and Wellbeing Forum for 2022

Aug 30, 2022

VACCHO would like to pay tribute to Aboriginal Community-controlled health organisations, the Aboriginal health sector, and the Department of Health for their enthusiastic participation throughout the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing partnership forum in Melbourne.

The Forum brought together key stakeholders from across the Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing health sector to share valuable knowledge, expertise, yarns, and learnings.

Highlights across the two-day event included Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Tony Garvey’s heartfelt Welcome to Country and the unveiling of Wurundjeri and Yorta-Yorta artist Simone Thomson’s beautiful piece From the Rivers to the Trees (pictured above Jill Gallagher, VACCHO CEO) with Minister for Health and Ambulance Services the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas and Michael Graham, CEO VAHS).

A stirring panel discussion between Karen Heap (Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative), Raylene Harradine (Bendigo & District Aboriginal Co-operative), Karinda Taylor (First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing) and Simon Flagg (Wathaurong) evoked robust and honest conversations that delved into the challenges being faced by the Aboriginal health sector.

L-R: Raylene Harradine (BDAC), Karen Heap (BADAC), Karinda Taylor (First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing) and Simon Flagg (Wathaurong)

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) CEO and VACCHO Chairperson Michael Graham delivered a powerful message emphasising the importance of early intervention whilst imploring that “We cannot Close the Gap unless we break the cycles.”

Michael Graham, CEO of VAHS and Chairperson of the VACCHO board, at the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Partnership Forum, August 2022

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher delivered an emotional speech that emphasised the importance of meaningful partnerships whilst imploring attendees to be “strong, bold, and brave” and to carry on the legacy of truth-telling pioneers like the late Uncle Archie Roach.
Recently appointed Minister for Health and Ambulance Services the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas spoke with passion about the importance of family and community whilst praising the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples The Hon. Gabrielle Williams’ address on Mental Health was another important moment.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher paid tribute to attendees for their unwavering dedication and commitment to taking care of the community.

“The mainstream health system can learn a lot from the way Aboriginal community controlled Health Organisations provide that full, holistic model of wrap around care.”

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher delivered an emotional speech that emphasised the importance of meaningful partnerships

“I implore all levels of government to continue the sustained investment that is needed and to listen to the Strong Aboriginal voice regarding our ways of knowing, being, and doing.”

“This will ensure that we maintain a powerful partnership that delivers positive health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people.”

“Relationships and collaborations between participants at the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Partnership forum are crucial to closing the gap in life expectancy for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Victoria.”

Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email communications@vaccho.org.au or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.

Background 

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.