Our history

When VACCHO was established in 1996, it was to address the need identified by Victoria’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) for a peak body to advocate with a united voice from the Community-controlled health sector.

Starting in a makeshift office with three employees, VACCHO has matured into a strong and resilient peak body for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in Victoria, doubling our membership and employing over 100 staff.

Twenty-five years later, VACCHO’s mandate remains largely unchanged: support our Members in the delivery of high-quality, culturally safe health and social services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities across the state.  

In pursuit of our vision for vibrant, healthy and self-determining Communities, we have expanded our capacity in the areas of training and development, advocacy, health research and evidence, health promotion, engagement with Community, government and stakeholders, and business support. 

In the next 25 years, we want to realise generational change, to see better health and wellbeing outcomes for Community across the state, from Yorta Yorta Country, across to Kurnai Country in the east and Wergaia Country in the west, and down to the coastal plains of Gunditjmara Country. 

Self-determination is at the heart of what we do and what we want to achieve. Our vision is for Culture, Community and Country to be embedded and respected in all healthcare settings and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have equitable health access and outcomes.

Staff standing outside the VACCHO building in Collingwood before it was painted with the current iconic mural

Celebrating 20 years

Since opening our doors in April 1996, we have been striving to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We wanted to celebrate this journey and the importance of VACCHO’s presence in Collingwood, which for many decades now has been a centre for political activism and the emergence of Aboriginal Community-controlled organisations, along with neighbouring Fitzroy.

In partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, and three Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, we produced a large-scale mural for the face of VACCHO’s building, providing a sense of permanency and identity to Community in the area.

The mural represents Aboriginal cultures, families, communities, our diversity and is a representation of the unique and comprehensive services delivered by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

Celebrating 25 years

In 2021, VACCHO reached a 25-year milestone, the length of a generation. The 25th anniversary gave us a moment to reflect on how far we had come but also what was needed to realise meaningful change within the next generation.

This came at a time when our Members and the wider health sector had been under intense pressure from the global pandemic. The strength, compassion and resilience shown by our Members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to the essential role they play in supporting Community.

With the launch of a new strategic plan, the 25th anniversary marks a new approach to Aboriginal health and wellbeing, one embedded in Culture and Country that seeks to establish strong foundations for us and our Members by building capacity, relationships, and infrastructure for a self-determining and healthier future.


Recommended RESOURCES

Useful links and documents on Aboriginal history in Victoria


Museum Victoria – First Peoples Exhibition


Museum Victoria – Victorian Aboriginal Languages