Aboriginal health experts gather in Torquay

March 2, 2022 BY

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort. Photo: DR CATH CHAMBERLAIN/TWITTER

REPRESENTATIVES from Victoria’s peak body for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people gathered in Torquay for their first in-person meeting in two years.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) met last week on Wadawurrung Country at the RACV Torquay Resort to share learnings and experiences of the past two years and lay the foundations for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community in Victoria for 2022.

The February 14-16 Members’ Meeting was also an opportunity to recognise the leadership, dedication, and hard work of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has presented major challenges, but member organisations have been proactive and innovative to protect the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community.

Notable guests during the members’ meeting included Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley and Victorian Minister for Crime Prevention, Corrections, Youth Justice and Victims Support Natalie Hutchins.

Starting with a Welcome to Country from Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, the event included a special performance from Kokatha/Gunditjmara storyteller, guitarist, and performer Dave Arden and his band.

VACCHO chief executive officer Jill Gallagher said she had been looking forward to the Members’ Meeting for a long time.

“This important gathering provides us with an opportunity to connect and pay tribute to our members.

“This pandemic has had so many twists and turns. Every day it seems like something changes.

“But despite all the challenges – all the ups and downs – the ability of each of the members to quickly adjust and adapt to look after Community has been incredible.”

She said the Members’ Meeting was an important chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, and to think about where the organisation wanted to be in the next 25 years.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service chief executive officer Michael Graham said Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations were unique “in that we are one big family”.

“As a workforce, we should all be proud of our collective efforts in providing personalised, culturally-safe care for our communities across Victoria.”