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Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations receive funding support

Dechlan Brennan -

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across Victoria receive extra funding

Indigenous Victorians will have access to 100,000 extra additional community healthcare appointments as part of a new investment supporting the state's Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO's).

It comes as Victorian government announced seven ACCHO's across metro and regional Victoria will receive their share of more than $35 million in funding to help Aboriginal communities better access culturally safe and holistic primary care closer to home.

Member for Northern Metropolitan and Yorta Yorta woman, Sheena Watt, said ACCHO's played an important part in the community, and were trusted to deliver culturally safe services for Indigenous Victorians.

"Aboriginal health organisations are trusted and effective in their community - this initiative supports them to grow the services and support they deliver," she said.

Minister for Health, Mary-Anne Thomas, revealed the funding on Sunday, which was co-designed with community and acted on the priorities of the Victorian Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Partnership Forum.

"Aboriginal Victorians know what is best for their communities – this important initiative backs our incredible Aboriginal health organisations to keep doing their excellent work," Ms Thomas said.

The government says the investment will allow ACCHO's to expand their services and opening hours, as well boosting their preventive and early intervention services and treatment.

The expansion will help deliver more care services - tailored for the cultural needs of First Nations people - and is designed to both increase the health outcomes for Indigenous Victorians whilst also reducing the number of presentations to emergency departments and for preventable hospital admissions.

This greater access to primary care will facilitate better treatment of chronic diseases, including early identification.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (VACCHO) is the peak representative for Community controlled health and wellbeing sector of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria.

Their CEO, Jim O'Shea, said the announcement was about recognising the work put in by the various ACCHO's throughout Victoria.

"This is an exciting announcement as it is recognition of the vital work carried out by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and their driven teams," he said.

The seven funded ACCHO's include: Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative; First People's Health and Wellbeing; Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative; Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-operative; Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative; Victorian Aboriginal Health Service; and Lake Tyers Health and Children's Services.

The Victorian Department of Health committed to move all funding for service delivery to four-year funding contracts starting from July this year, according to VACCHO's latest report.

Previously, ACCHO's were given short-term funding, piece-meal grants for projects, often aligning with the priorities of the government of the day.

In the report, VACCO said the government announcement is a transition to a "self-determined outcomes-based model" which results in the pooling of funds.

The government says the funding will enable ACCHO's to expand their workforce, including the hiring of nurses, GP's and support workers as well as drivers to ensure immobility or lack of transport won't hinder health care opportunities.

Ms Thomas said the initiative would ensure "Aboriginal Victorians get the culturally safe care they deserve – whenever they need it, close to home".

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