• Jill Gallagher

Putting Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands

For too long, Aboriginal people have fallen through the cracks of a fragmented and culturally unsafe mental health system.

The impacts of COVID-19 have made existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

At VACCHO (the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) we are hearing firsthand how hard many of our communities have been hit.

While suicides did not increase last year, clusters in Victoria remain of concern.

But there's a glimmer of hope.

For the first time in history, Aboriginal leaders, Elders, organisations, people, families, carers and communities were given the opportunity to have their voices and experiences included in a redesign of Victoria’s mental health system.

Many spoke about the direct relationship between poor mental health and wellbeing and the loss of land, culture, identity, self-worth, and the breakdown of traditional kinship structures and roles.

The introduction of five new healing centres or camps was one of five key recommendations made by VACCHO in its ground-breaking Balit Durn Durn report to support the final report into the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

The five proposed centres will support resilience, healing, and trauma recovery through fostering connections to Country, kinship and culture.

VACCHO welcomes the Victorian State Government’s commitment to implementing all recommendations from the report.

What’s more, the success of Aboriginal-led strategies to the pandemic has provided a powerful incentive to Australian governments to ramp up their commitment to putting Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.


Jill Gallagher AO has spent the past 20 years advancing Aboriginal health and wellbeing through her work as CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

She is a highly respected Aboriginal leader and advocate for self-determination outcomes in the Victorian Aboriginal community, and a former Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.

She can be heard as part of a panel discussion about service reform and vision arising from the Royal Commission’s final report, on Day One of the symposium Putting It All Together. Full program


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