Our people

Since VACCHO’s inception in 1996, the organisation has grown from a grassroots collective staffed by just three people to a large and complex organisation made up of seven units.

Over the years, VACCHO has responded to the needs of the Community-controlled health sector by expanding 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 2021, VACCHO reached a milestone of 100 staff for the first time in the organisation’s 28-year history. Across the seven units that make up VACCHO, we have staff from different disciplines with varied skillsets, and with a range of perspectives and life experiences.

VACCHO is at heart, and by constitution, a Community-controlled organisation. Respect for Culture, Community and Country is fundamental to what we do as an organisation and who we are as individuals. We seek to nurture a trusting, respectful and inclusive culture, where staff are proud of their work, empowered to succeed and their wellbeing and safety are respected.

Dr. Jill Gallagher AO (HonLLD)

Dr. Jill Gallagher AO (HonLLD)

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Jill Gallagher AO (HonLLD) is a proud Gunditjmara woman from Western Victoria. Jill has spent more than 20 years advancing Aboriginal health and wellbeing through her work with VACCHO.

Jill has been instrumental in helping VACCHO grow a team of over 100, providing support to 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across the state. 

As a respected Aboriginal leader who has dedicated her life to advocating for Community, Jill has been inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women (2009), awarded the Order of Australia (2013), and inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll (2015). From 2016 to 2019, Jill served as Victoria’s first Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

Foundations and Innovations

The Foundations and Innovations Unit (FIU) supports all VACCHO’s business units, Member Organisations, and provides services on Governance, Performance reviews of CEO and senior managers, Strategic Planning and Review. Corporate Services provides organisation-wide business support services based on specialist knowledge and technology to serve internal and external customers and business partners. Corporate Services also works with Quality Improvement through both Quality (ISO9001:2016) and Risk Management (ISO31000:2009) ISO standards to ensure transferrable and best practice systems are implemented within the unique context of the community controlled model.

With the leadership of the Chief Operating Officer, the FIU manages VACCHO’s finances, investments, innovation and development, auditing, administration, operations, health information technologies, human resources, and quality, risk, compliance and safety. 

The Chief Operating Officer and FIU are also responsible for the organisation’s corporate governance and legal and regulatory needs.

Jim O’Shea

Jim O’Shea

Chief Operating Officer & Company Secretary

Jim O’Shea is a proud Gumbaynggirr man, he moved to Melbourne four years ago from Sydney. 

Jim brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his role, he has over 38 years’ experience as a financial and business manager across private sector companies and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Policy, Advocacy and Communications

The Policy, Advocacy and Communications Unit (PACU) works with our Members to identify the key issues impacting Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across Victoria. PACU strengthens VACCHO’s profile as the leading voice on health and wellbeing matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria.

See VACCHO’s latest advoacy here.

Stephanie Kilpatrick

Stephanie Kilpatrick

PACU, Executive Director

Stephanie Kilpatrick is a skilled policy and communications professional having a career that has spanned health portfolios and previous roles in the heart of the Victorian Government including as an adviser to the Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services. 

Stephanie has experience in developing and implementing multi-million dollar projects, managing strategic relationships at all levels of government and with international bodies, and delivering on broad policy agendas while centring people at the heart of the outcomes.

Registered Training Organisation and Education Training Unit

The VACCHO Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and Education Services Unit (ETU) has delivered accredited Aboriginal Health Worker training since 2000. The unit also delivers accredited training developed by and copyrighted to VACCHO. VACCHO’s training programs address the required skills and knowledge demanded by industry. The Scope of Registration responds to emerging trends and needs as identified by the member services unit and as special purpose external funding allows.

Louise Carey

Louise Carey

ETU, Executive Director

Louise Carey brings a wealth of experience and expertise with a career spanning years of dedicated service across the Aboriginal health and Community Control sector. Louise’s multifaceted experience includes Policy and Advocacy, Risk, Governance and all facets of Operations.

Louise is dedicated to amplifying the voices and aspirations of Aboriginal communities and is passionate about Aboriginal Community Control and Self-Determination.

Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre

The Victorian Aboriginal Centre of Excellence in Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) that provides a comprehensive suite of Aboriginal SEWB and mental health best practice services, culturally relevant health literature and research.

The SEWB team works across various programs, including mental health and wellbeing, alcohol and other drugs (AOD), sector support and networking, and partnering with mainstream organisations. 

The SEWB team focuses on fostering a deep understanding of the social and emotional wellbeing needs within Community.

In the coming years, a key focus will be the design, development and delivery of the SEWB Centre of Excellence.

Sheree Lowe

Sheree Lowe

SEWB Unit Executive Director

Sheree Lowe is a Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara woman with a strong connection to South West Victoria, she has lived most her life on Wadawurrung Country in Ballarat. 

Sheree has been advocating within the Aboriginal Community in Victoria for over 20 years. She previously worked as a management consultant at PwC on projects related to organisation transformation through an Aboriginal lens and cultural safety program design. 

At VACCHO, Sheree is leading the establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing.

Population Health 

The Population Health Unit (PopHealth) assists Aboriginal Community Controlled health organisations prioritise public health approaches within primary health care service delivery and strengthens service level responses to public health issues such as chronic disease, communicable disease and environmental health. This Unit uses Aboriginal public health knowledge across VACCHO and its member organisations to ensure the wellbeing of our community. This unit is also responsible for workforce development within ACCO’s.

PopHealth provides a strategic, coordinated and evidence-based approach to member services, workforce support and mainstream responsiveness to improve the Aboriginal community’s health and wellbeing outcomes.

Abe Ropitini

Abe Ropitini

PHU Executive Director

Abe Ropitini is a proud Māori man of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Maniapoto iwi, with ancestral links to Palawa Country, Tasmania.

He has a background in medical anthropology and international development and has managed projects across health, disability and aged care, digital transformation, and Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing.