“60,000 Years Proud and Deadly”. VACCHO Pays Tribute to Communities Following Rejuvenating and Energising ‘Gathering Of Mob’

Nov 12, 2023

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is honoured to be a part of the historic ‘A Gathering of Mob’ event which has seen over 300 people from across the state come together on beautiful Taungurung Country this weekend.

Aunty Joanne Honeysett and Uncle Stephen Walsh during the Welcome to County – photo by Leroy Miller

This celebration of 60,000 years of Aboriginal culture has brought together a gathering of Elders, youth, and leaders from clans across the state to heal, yarn, and share stories.

14 October 2023 was a sad day for Australia – however the referendum outcome has only strengthened the resolve of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities across Victoria.

‘A Gathering of Mob’ is about Communities wrapping our arms around one another, standing together as one and championing rich, ancient Aboriginal cultures to forge the way forward.

The rich displays of Aboriginal culture and storytelling that were on display at the Gathering of Mob proved to be an incredibly rejuvenating and energising experience for all of those in attendance.

Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at the Gathering of Mob event at Camp Jungai – photo by Leroy Miller

Attendees at the gathering delivered an emphatic message – Aboriginal Communities are strong, resilient, and will not falter.

The event was launched yesterday evening with the lighting of the ceremonial fire and a powerful Welcome to Country courtesy of Taungurung Elder, Aunty Joanne Honeysett.

Today has also seen many memorable moments with yarning circles, basket weaving, spear throwing, ceremonial dancing, ochre face/body painting, and inspiring performances from Koori Youth Will Shake Spears dance group, Illana Atkinson, and the one and only Uncle Herb Patten.

The Koorie Youth Will Shake Spears performed at the Gathering – Photo by Leroy Miller

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO said that being immersed in culture and seeing Communities come together to heal in solidarity was an incredible experience for all.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the Taungurung Land & Waters Council for allowing us to gather on beautiful Taungurung land.Camp Jungai is of great significance to Aboriginal Communities throughout Victoria and prior to colonisation the land was an ancestral ceremonial site for Taungurung people.”

“To be here to gather around the ceremonial fire, share stories, listen to wisdom from Elders, and watch the amazing dance performances was something truly special.”

“We are over 65,000 years proud and Deadly and we are unbreakable with a rich, diverse culture. We want to share our ancient cultures with the rest of Australia.”

“We are a resilient, determined, and fearless people – and we will not take a backward step.”

VACCHO sincerely thanks the Taungurung Land & Waters Council, Victorian Government, Victoria Primary Health Networks (PHN), Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations, First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, event organisers and volunteers for partnership, support, and generosity in making this historic gathering possible.

Media enquiries

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


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.