Transformative Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Action Plan Signed

May 31, 2023

Stakeholders from government, mainstream health and the Aboriginal health sector gathered in Lilydale last week to discuss the direction of Aboriginal health and wellbeing policy and service delivery in Victoria.

The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Partnership Forum, hosted by VACCHO, has come to a close after two days of important discussions facilitated by prominent figures within both the Aboriginal Community Controlled healthcare and mainstream sectors and representatives of the Victorian Government.

A highlight of the Forum was the signing of the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2023-2025 by Minister for Mental Health and Treaty and First Peoples the Hon. Gabrielle Williams and Minister for Health the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, as well as representatives from the Department of Health and Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisation (ACCO) sector.

The Plan was signed both in writing and with a handprint, symbolic of the shared responsibility of each party in delivering the outcomes outlined in the document.

TheAboriginal Health and Wellbeing Partnership Agreement being signed

Minister Williams reiterated the importance of the Plan in reversing historical failures to improve Closing the Gap in health and wellbeing outcomes.

“The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Agreement and Action Plan delivers tangible actions to improve health and wellbeing outcomes that we know Aboriginal people, communities and organisations want and are best placed to deliver.”

Minister Thomas likewise acknowledged the importance of the renewed vision the Plan provides.
“The Agreement not only establishes a new policy direction that is founded on self-determination and partnership between the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and the Victorian government, but it also provides a mechanism for policy across Victorian Aboriginal healthcare reforms, connecting existing strategies and policies both in Victoria and nationally.”

The Forum provided a platform for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across the state to share learnings and unpack challenges with policy makers and the broader healthcare sector.

L to R: The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP, Michael Graham CEO VAHS, The Hon. Gabrielle Williams MP, Jill Gallagher AO CEO VACCHO, Prof. Euan Wallace Secretary, Department of Health

One of the key themes throughout the Forum was self-determination, meaning the ability of the ACCO sector to independently design and deliver services to Community.

CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) and VACCHO Chairperson, Michael Graham, spoke positively about the honest and frank discussions that took place over the two days.

“I feel like there is good will in making the changes needed, we have already seen some small progress in that way, so I’m positive.”

VACCHO’s Victorian Aboriginal Cancer Journey Strategy was also launched at the two-day forum. Read more about it here. 

The Forum concluded with a visit to Oonah Health & Community Services Aboriginal Corporation, an ACCO located in Healesville. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from Amanda Hand, the CEO of Oonah, about their experience in service delivery.

Ms. Hand’s presentation made it clear that, although positive steps are being made to reconcile a collective approach to Aboriginal healthcare in Victoria, many ACCOs still lack the support and resources required to support healthy, thriving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Victoria.

VACCHO pays tribute to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations for their insight, engagement and enthusiastic contributions to the Forum and sincerely thanks major stakeholders for their valuable partnership.

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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.