Victorian Aboriginal health conference 2012
A capacity audience of over 400 people attended the first major conference on Aboriginal health in Victoria on Thursday 24 May and Friday 25 May at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The conference aimed to engage with the public health system to make Aboriginal health the responsibility of the Victorian public health system: hospitals, community health services and GPs as well as the Aboriginal community controlled health sector. This is important as it will go a long way towards closing the health gap between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal Victorians.
- A celebration of Victorian Aboriginal culture – a video The Victorian Aboriginal population – a snapshot, covered the history, diversity and strength of Victoria’s contemporary Aboriginal people
- Video transcript
Who is the Victorian Aboriginal population - a snapshot
Victorian Aboriginal conference 2012
Today we meet on the lands of the Kulin nation, a nation that has a proud and strong heritage.
The Kulin Nation is just one of many Aboriginal communities in Victoria. Our mob are spread far and wide across the state – we're coastal people, river people, desert people and bush people. Half of us live in the cities and the other half out in rural areas. But there's one thing that binds us, and that's our connection to our land and culture.
Our culture has broadened and grown rich in our time on this land. A culture that is vibrant and living. We have lived in Victoria for 50,000 years and our people form the longest continuous living cultural tradition in the world. Though it has not been without its challenges.
Our recent past has been one of struggle and survival.
Between European settlement and 1853 our population was decimated.
With introduced European diseases like smallpox, massacres, the denial of our right to speak our languages and perform traditional ceremonies and the forced relocation of our men, women and children, our population reduced from 60,000 to 2,000. A lot of people still assume Aboriginal people live up in the centre and top end of Australia. But we're here – not all of us have dark skin and we don't make up a large part of the population, but we're here.
We excel in a broad range of professions including sport, the arts, business and politics. Although we have our successes we slip through the cracks on a number of fronts. We're less likely to finish school, attend university and be employed and our health is much poorer, with significantly higher prevalence of depression and anxiety, cancer, stroke and asthma. This means we die much younger than non-Aboriginal Victorians.
But it's something that can be fixed.
Our aunties, our uncles, our elders who hold our community together, our families that support us, our brothers and sisters have worked hard to fix these inequalities.
We established the first Victorian Aboriginal health service in Fitzroy in 1973. Since then 24 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations have been set up across Victoria. But we know that it's by working together with your mob that we can really make a difference. We have had to learn to adapt, survive and protect our culture, our stories and our people. Today, we number 38,000 and we're growing. And we've got more and more young people – in fact, half of us are under 18.
By 2030 the government expects my grandchildren to live as long as their non-Aboriginal friends. Aboriginal health is my responsibility, it's your responsibility, it's everyone's responsibility.
- Statement of Intent – to take responsibility to close the health gap was signed by 15 CEOs from metropolitan and regional hospitals and community based health services
- Bunjil’s nest dinner
The former Victorian Premier demonstrated the Victorian Government’s commitment to close the health gap when he addressed delegates at the conference dinner.
- Launch – Koolin Balit
The Minister for Health, the Hon David Davis MP, launched Koolin Balit: Victorian Government Strategic Directions for Aboriginal Health 2012-2022 at the conference.
Launch – Koolin Balit
- Whole of government commitment
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Jeanette Powell, MLA spoke about the importance of a whole of government commitment to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage.
Whole of government commitment
Over the two days conference delegates:
- were stimulated and inspired by national and local key note speakers
- learnt about the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and its member agencies
- participated in interactive sessions and wandered through a poster display both demonstrating the depth of Victoria’s excellent and innovative work in Aboriginal health
- learnt about the growing, diverse and dynamic Victorian Aboriginal population
- were inspired by the vision for the future articulated by Gregory Phillips, Head of School for Indigenous Health, Monash University
For more information on the Victorian Aboriginal health conference please contact
Visit the Aboriginal Health Conference 2012 photo page to view and download photos from both days of the conference.
CEOs from metropolitan and regional hospitals and community based health services were invited to a Victorian Aboriginal health summit. At the conclusion of the summit 15 CEOs signed a Statement of Intent together with the Health Minister, the Hon David Davis MP, Jill Gallagher, CEO, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation and Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, to take responsibility to help close the health gap, ‘(this) will ensure that our efforts to close the gap will reach exactly where we need to be – on the ground and in the waiting rooms of doctors’ surgeries and health centres around Victoria’, stated Mick Gooda.
The Victorian population in Victoria – a conversation
Jill Gallagher, CEO, VACCHO and Dr Jeff McMullen
Aboriginal health: international and national overview
Mick Gooda, Social Justice Commissioner, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
Aboriginal health: Victorian overview
Professor Ian Anderson, Director, Murrup Barak
Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
Jill Gallagher, CEO, VACCHO
Aboriginal health: importance of data and evidence
Prof Noel Hayman, Clinical Director, Inala Indigenous Health Service (Brisbane)
A health service’s journey in closing the gap
Therese Tierney, Chief Executive Officer, Orbost Regional Health
Aboriginal health: improving access to healthcare
Beth Wilson, Health Services Commissioner, Victoria
Vision for the future
Gregory Phillips, Head of School, Harvest Alliance School for Indigenous Health
Victorian indigenous plants – connection to health
Trevor Gallagher, Aboriginal Programs Officer, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
karnda weerreeyarr karnda meerreen (call up spirit, call up country)
Performance piece, produced and directed by Vicki Couzens that combined dance (traditional and contemporary), didgeridoo, drumming on possum skin cloak (female drumming on possum skin cloaks was common in Victoria) and voice in language (Gunditjmara).
Aboriginal football legends panel
Belinda Duarte, Inaugural Director, Korin Gamadji Institute (Richmond)* facilitated a panel discussion on the role of Australian League Football (AFL) in helping to promote health and wellbeing for Aboriginal Australians.
*The Korin Gamadji Institute was established to focus on Indigenous leadership development, training and employment.
Victorian Aboriginal visual art exhibition
Curator, Maree Clarke
The Victorian Aboriginal visual art exhibition included excellent, contemporary work by Aboriginal artists who live in Victoria. The pieces demonstrated the professionalism and diversity of the artists as well as a strong connection to a thriving Victorian Aboriginal culture. The artists included:
- Robyn Latham - Yamatji;
- Peter Waples-Crowe - Wiradjuri;
- Megan Cadd - Yorta Yorta;
- Annette Sax - Taungurung;
- Kate Oates;
- Kent Morris - Barkindji;
- Vicki Couzens - Gunditjmara;
- Maree Clarke - Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, Boonerwrung