The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation launched the groundbreaking Culture + Kinship program evaluation report Wednesday, in the lead up to National Close the Gap Day – 16 March.
VACCHO noted that last year's Closing The Gap report data and the Coroners Court of Victoria Suicide Report in February provided "unmistakable evidence" that the devastating gaps in health and wellbeing outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Victorians continue to blight health equality in Victoria.
VACCHO said its Culture + Kinship Report demonstrates that by focusing on the cultural determinants of health, "there are constructive approaches that can be taken to close the gaps in health and wellbeing disadvantage".
The report notes that through the Culture + Kinship program, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been able to re-connect with Community, Culture and Country.
"At the very core of the program was the opportunity for the funded Communities to learn more about, and participate directly in, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and creativity," VACCHO said in a statement Wednesday.
"The Culture + Kinship program was uniquely Community driven with a flexible funding model that empowered Communities to lead the way with their own solutions in the form of self-determined, locally led programs."
VACCHO said a social return on investment analysis showed the program "produced significant value for its stakeholders, with Community Members benefiting especially through reconnecting with Community, Culture and Country, and in doing so, experiencing a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes".
VACCHO paid tribute to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations Budja Budja, Goolum Goolum, Rumbalara and Moogji for their dedication and enthusiasm in embracing the groundbreaking program.
Chief executive Jill Gallagher said she was optimistic that the positive outcomes outlined in the report will encourage further investment into programs and services that focus on cultural determinants of health and provide sustainability for our Communities through flexible, long-term funding.
"The Culture and Kinship program has reinforced the undeniable fact that Aboriginal-led and localised approaches deliver the best results for Community and Aboriginal knowledge, empowerment, advocacy, and innovation are the key to closing the gap in health disadvantages experienced by our people," she said.
VACCHO executive director of population health, Abe Ropitini, said it was inspiring to see the connection to culture and kinship that the initiative nurtured.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know that these important connections have direct impacts on the health, and wellbeing of the Community. For our young people it develops confidence, self-esteem, and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture," he said.
"The program shows that if there is investment in connecting people to their Country and Community, we will be able to create vibrant and self-determining Communities, and our Boorais (children) will grow up to shape the future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria."
More information about the program is available online.